I Hate the Internet

Internet

I hate the internet. Never before, in the history of man, has the means of such incredibly rapid dissemination of blatantly false information been so easily accomplished. Given that most people lack training in critical thinking, the internet has given rise to more bullshit masquerading as ‘fact’ than in any time since Gutenberg invented moveable type.

I hate the internet. By education, I am a scientist. I am trained as a zoologist, which also entails a solid dose of chemistry, physics, and physiology. Science uses “the scientific method.” The scientific method states that theories are testable, repeatable, and capable of being changed when new information becomes available. A claim of any sort requires demonstrable evidence. In short, extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary proof. But not on the internet.

Below are several of my latest favorites.

  • Obama has introduced a Muslim Outreach program for schoolchildren.
  • The White House is calling Christmas trees “holiday trees.”
  • Members of Congress and their families are not required to pay back their student loans.
  • The hydrogen-oxygen bonds in our water now have the wrong bond angle which causes cancer.
  • Red Bull contains a banned, government-manufactured stimulant which causes brain tumors.
  • Criminals are handing out key rings with hidden tracking devices embedded within them to find houses to rob.
  • Weirdos are injecting women with instant acting knock-out drugs in mall parking lots and kidnapping them by tossing them into car trunks.

All false, and all clogging the feeds of my social media outlets in their absurdity.

Just a moment. I don’t hate the internet. I love the internet. What I hate is the willingness of intelligent people to blindly accept, and pass along, such a wide variety of baseless rumor as if it were fact. People have always believed in weird and baseless crap. A search for “why people believe weird things” came back with 126,000,000 hits. This is not a new phenomenon. I suspect when word got out about Moses and the Plagues of Egypt, the rumor mill was working as fast as was possible. But today, “as fast as possible” means as fast as the sorry combination of hitting the “SHARE” button coupled with the speed of electrons.

We have a national anxiety crisis. We have created it. In the words of Walt Kelly’s Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” How to stop it?

1)      If it sounds too fantastic to be true (either fantastic great or, or fantastic bad), it is.

2)     If it sounds wildly far-fetched, it probably is.

3)     As my friend Nick says, “Stop posting useless BS.”

Please.  Or else I’ll have to un-follow you. And I love seeing pictures of your kids, your family celebrations, and reading about the wacky thing that happened at the mall.

Really. I do. Thanks.

 

 

Comments

The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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Comments

  1. One issue is that many people – particularly young – carry the belief that if they read it somewhere it must be true. And anyone can post anything on the internet which ultimately can spread falsehoods and worse.

    • David Stanley says:

      As a high school teacher, I hear from my (now grown) students that one of the things I did best was teach the value of skepticism (but not cynicism). This reflects your thought- that people believe nearly anything they read, and the internet has accelerated the falsehoods through our society. Reminds me of the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon and Amy spread the rumor that they have had coitus. http://bigbangtheory.wikia.com/wiki/The_Herb_Garden_Germination Thanks for writing.

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