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What is Lateral Reading?

Understanding Lateral Reading: A New Approach to Information Evaluation

With the rapid growth of digital media and the abundance of information available online, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources. In this era of fake news and misinformation, it is crucial to develop critical thinking skills and adopt effective strategies for evaluating the credibility of information. One such strategy is lateral reading.

What is Lateral Reading?

Lateral reading is an information evaluation technique that involves leaving the webpage you are currently on to gather additional information from other sources. Unlike traditional fact-checking methods that rely solely on the information provided on a single webpage, lateral reading encourages readers to explore multiple sources and consider different perspectives.

When practicing lateral reading, instead of relying solely on the content of a webpage, you should focus on assessing the credibility of the source itself. This involves conducting quick searches to gather information about the author, the website, and the overall reputation of the source. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of the context and potential biases that may influence the information presented.

The Benefits of Lateral Reading

Lateral reading offers several advantages over traditional fact-checking methods. By exploring multiple sources, you can gain a broader perspective on a particular topic and identify potential biases or inaccuracies. This approach allows you to make more informed decisions about the credibility and reliability of the information you encounter online.

Furthermore, lateral reading helps you develop critical thinking skills by encouraging you to question the information presented and seek additional evidence. By actively engaging in lateral reading, you become a more discerning consumer of information, less susceptible to manipulation and misinformation.

How to Practice Lateral Reading

Practicing lateral reading involves a few simple steps:

  1. Start by quickly scanning the webpage and noting the source of the information.
  2. Open a new tab or window and conduct a quick search to gather information about the author, the website, and the source’s reputation.
  3. Consider multiple perspectives by exploring other sources that discuss the same topic.
  4. Evaluate the credibility of the sources you find, taking into account factors such as expertise, bias, and reputation.
  5. Formulate your own assessment of the information based on the evidence gathered from multiple sources.

Remember, lateral reading is not about spending excessive time on each webpage. It is about quickly gathering information from different sources to make more informed judgments about the credibility of the information at hand.


In a world where misinformation spreads rapidly, lateral reading offers a valuable approach to evaluating information. By adopting this technique, you can become a more critical and discerning consumer of information, better equipped to navigate the complex landscape of online content. So, the next time you come across a dubious claim or a questionable source, remember to practice lateral reading and explore multiple perspectives before forming your opinion.

FAQs: Understanding Lateral Reading

What is an example of lateral reading?

Let’s say you find a blog post claiming a new cure for the common cold. Here’s how you could practice lateral reading:

  1. Check the blog’s “About Us” section to see if they’re a health authority or just someone with opinions.
  2. Search the author’s name to see if they have medical expertise.
  3. Look for articles in medical journals or reputable news sources that discuss this “cure.”
  4. Use fact-checking websites to see if there are any debunkings of this claim.

By following these steps, you’re not just passively accepting the information on the blog. You’re actively verifying its credibility through other sources.

What is the lateral reading strategy?

Lateral reading is a critical thinking technique used to evaluate information online. It involves going beyond a single webpage and exploring other sources to:

  • Check the credibility of the information.
  • Gain a broader perspective on the topic.
  • Avoid misinformation and bias.

What is lateral reading vs vertical reading?

  • Vertical reading: This is the traditional approach where you read everything on a single webpage, following links within the site.
  • Lateral reading: This is a more active approach where you jump off the page and explore information from credible external sources.

Which description best defines lateral reading?

The best description of lateral reading is:

  • A critical thinking strategy that involves evaluating information online by going beyond a single webpage and exploring other sources to verify its credibility and gain a broader perspective.

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