The Case of the Outdated Article

Date updated: November 25, 2019 [Up]
Material is free to copy, use, and modify.

This tweet was posted around the time of the recent Bolivian coup. A theory was going around that the coup had been engineered to gain control over lithium supplies. If lithium is rare and Bolivia controls 70% of it, then it's not inconceivable that control of lithium supplies played a role in the coup.

When we click through to the article that's supposed to support this, however, it's not quite what we thought.. Notice the date? This is an article that is ten years old. That's an odd article about the future.

Let's see what more recent articles say. We do a right-click search.

We notice this answer card here. And maybe we'll click into that. But let's also scroll.

Notice this one? It's from that Foreign Policy magazine that the original slideshow was from. But it's not from 2009. It's from 3 days ago.

This article points out that Bolivia's reserves aren't that attractive -- because of climatic and geological reasons they are harder to get at.

Let's check out this one, now. Whenever you see one of these Google cards it's important you read it in context -- which means clicking through.

This article indicates that the promise of the Bolivian deposits has not panned out -- the process for extracting lithium in Bolivia is much more expensive, and makes the reserves worth much less.

In any case, always check the date, and ask yourself if you maybe need new information.

An old article about history might be fine, but about something like this it's worth asking if people are sharing the old article because the newer information doesn't meet their needs.