Monday, November 2, 2009

Information Station

In college, when I and my classmates had to write a paper, our teacher (of any English class, or any other class for that matter) would stand in front of us, point their intellectual guns at us, and threaten us within an inch of our lives that our sources had better be from a creditable source, ie. from a book or scholarly journal, or we would be shot and buried in the West Desert. Any information drawn from the Internet (unless it was JStore or some other electronic college journal, for which you had to have a password) was a huge no-no.




Now, that was seven years ago. And considering the garbage you can find these days on the Internet, I can't imagine that this rule has changed much (any of you currently enrolled, please let me know if this is still the policy.).


A few months back, there was a story in the news about a college student who thought he would try an experiment with Wikipedia. Wikipedia is, if you didn't know, written by the masses (hopefully the informed masses). So, if you look up "Jackelope" and there is no entry, you can write one (I don't recommend you do, unless you really are an expert on Jackelopes.). Now, Wikipedia expects their contributors to be honest. The student mentioned above decided it would be great fun to write an entry about a recently deceased composer that he made up. Within minutes, people were spreading the student's false entry on their blogs and Internet sites. I am sure it made for a great study of the power of electronic information, but when discovered, this little college student got in a lot of trouble. Now, I am sure this kind of thing is an exception, not the rule when it comes to Wikipedia (I look things up on Wikipedia, too, so I am not trying to be snobby when it comes to people looking stuff up there), but it still made me laugh when one of Jeremy's co-workers informed Jeremy that he got all of his facts from Wikipedia (of course, this is the same guy who told Jeremy that he (meaning the co-worker) discovered that he was a genius because an Internet IQ test told him so.).


It kind of makes one leery of the information readily available to us--from the Internet or a book. My American History teacher was from the South, and he told us that us "Northerners" had slanted history for years to make them look like a whole bunch of wackos.

Is it possible to be objective? I don't know if it is. I think it is a nice theory, but unless you have been living in a box your entire life, I don't know if it is possible to objective about anything. And suppose you had lived in a box your entire life. What if someone asked you what you thought of a sphere? My guess is you would prefer the box, and your judgement would be slanted that way. And who knows what living in a box might do to your psyche anyway, and how it would make you think and perceive the world?

It seems to me that we all live in our own little boxes of biases and preferences.


Think of a colony of people living in boxes. What if, one day, someone decided to peek out of the box...think of what would happen if, after peeking out, the person got OUT of the box? And suppose that person started knocking on other people's boxes, telling them that what was outside their boxes was worth seeing? How many of us would jump out of our security and join our brave friend?




God has given us the recipe for knowing if things are true: "Study it out in your mind, and ask me if it be right..." God expects us to work things out, and, with the assistance of the Spirit, we can know what is true. Thank heaven for discernment. In this world of ready information that bombards us from all sides, that is the only way to know if what is being offered to us is truth.

9 comments:

Bethany said...

Good food for thought .. thanks for sharing.

And thanks for the magnets. How did you know I needed some?1

shydandelion said...

What mom doesn't need magnets? :)

Jen said...

. . .

Trillium said...

What do you mean "What If?" People DO live in boxes, work in cubicles (boxes), and stare at boxes during their waking hours (computer screens, TV screens, electronic devices of all kinds). The more "connected" they are with their boxes, the more disconnected they are with reality and other human beings. Scarey! :D

Enjoying Life . . . One day at a time! said...

I admit, I was a little worried that I'd get a dressed up avacado pit! :) But, I love the scarf! Definitely perfect for this Christmas season. It gets cold here in WA! Thanks for thinking of me!

Katscratchme said...

Another tidbit about that composer: Newspapers and other periodicals that reported his death, used the quote that the student created and attributed to the composer, so you can imagine the backlash when it was discovered to be made up. A few of the article writers were reprimanded for not double checking their sources.
As for the boxes, I think we all live in our own glass POV box (point of view). Our whole approach to the world is determined by how we see the world. Some of us see through warped glass of varying degrees.. some of us through fogged glass, but I'm pretty sure none of us see through the crystal clear glass that Heavenly Father does.

Jam and Stew said...

Nowadays in college you can use just about anything on the internet as long as it is deemed a "credible" source, meaning that you can use sites like USAToday or CNN.com. I even had an instructor that did let students use Wikipedia for certain things. This is even a change from when I started.

shydandelion said...

What is education coming to....

Rebecca said...

i live in a large box and work in box... but I like to venture outside my boxes. Thanks for the ornament.

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