This week the firearms and tactical medical community is ablaze with news that Jeff Kirkham, the creator of the RATS Tourniquet has initiated a fake news campaign against the North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet. He’s also been cybersquatting on a couple of CAT-related domains. This has been covered in detail by many outlets, and isn’t the primary focus off this article. While Jeff Kirkham’s behavior is pretty awful, it illustrates an even more important point for anyone researching a topic online today.
You must verify any information you’re presented with, and if something doesn’t pass the smell test, figure out who’s getting paid. That doesn’t mean that you can’t trust anyone, but there are some ways to be smart about who you trust. For example, if someone doesn’t disclose their financial arrangements when recommending a product, that’s a red flag. For example, I receive product and occasionally money from Beretta in exchange for creating content for them. It’s important to me that people know that. However, that level of ethics isn’t always present in some content creators, who won’t divulge sponsorship or other related information. If you see a recommendation for a product without a clear statement of whether the content creator has a financial relationship? Exercise caution.
Another way to vet your sources is to search for corroborating information. For example, in the RATS case mentioned above, Jeff Kirkham set up a fake news website that cherry picked incidents where the CAT failed. If you went to the source material sited, it was clear that the data presented on Jeff’s site had been selected specifically to push a narrative. You couldn’t find information that corroborated the fake news site, and in fact all the available studies actually pointed to the effectiveness of CATs in action. Make sure when you’re reading claims that you double check them. If you’re on a website and it is the only source claiming something fantastic or weird, there is a good chance that there’s a reason why you can’t find anything to verify their information.
Another example: because a person is an expert in a particular field doesn’t mean they know fuck-all about a related field. Using myself as an example: I am a fairly accomplished handgun shooter. My knowledge of Precision Rifle Shooting starts and ends with the three-day class I took a few years back. Oh sure, I know sight alignment and trigger movement but that’s it. Everything else is basically a mystery to me. Now think about that – both of those topics are shooting related and yet in one area I’m a SME and the other I know about as much as some dickhead on Facebook. This is why it’s important to understand a person’s credentials and experience when they’re recommending products. If Ben Stoeger tells me that a shot timer is the best one he’s ever used, I’m going to believe him. If Ben Stoeger tells me that he invented a new Israeli bandage and it’s the best ever, I’m going to have all the skeptical hippo eyes.
Here’s the simple bottom line. We’re in the age of ultimate information, and also misinformation. While there are plenty of honest and ethical content creators out there, there are also a few unscrupulous bad actors who are willing to deceive, and manipulate to make a buck. Trust, but verify.