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Forward to All

When it comes to history, I prefer cold, hard facts. I don’t want to hear what someone thinks other people thought. That’s not even hearsay!  I receive emails all the time that are very badly researched pieces of collective rubbish. They’re probably added to over time through forward after forward to reflect some truth, but mostly to compound the fiction.

There is a disturbing, underlying theme these days, when it comes to just about everything; education, reporting, research, etc. It seems that people are using the short-attention-span and fast-food-delivery method of learning anything. If it’s not written in fun language, and under 2 paragraphs, people don’t bother. This is a major problem! Most people would say, “on quick glance … seems credible”. Hell, most people don’t even bother to read an entire news article; they think they’ve gotten the whole story from just the title.

Then — worse yet — people take something that is maybe 70 parts factual, with 20 parts conjecture and 10 parts outright stupidity, and forward it to everyone they know. 99% of the people that receive it, will take it all as fact, and pass it along. People don’t know, or don’t care, that they’re passing along lies and fiction.

Imagine, however, a teacher asks a student to do a paper about William Shakespeare. While reading, the teacher notices a small, seemingly insignificant reference to Shakespeare holding the remote control to his television, while on the phone with Albert Einstein. Just one sentence, no big deal – right? A little farther down the paper, another sentence talks about what Shakespeare was thinking while he wrote “Hamlet”, and how the whole story stems from his issues with his father. The entire paper is about 10 pages long, so these two small things aren’t a big deal. Other than those small problems, it’s a brilliant paper … the best the teacher has ever read. She passes it along to her peers. What kind of reaction do you suppose she’d receive from her peers? Now imagine she passes it along to a group of middle-school children, who have only heard of Shakespeare in passing; completely ignorant of the fact that he lived long before the time of televisions, telephones and Einstein.

That’s what I see happening all around me, and it’s infuriating! People who are ignorant of most history (because let’s face it, history is b-o-r-i-n-g when you’re in school, and even after graduation) will receive things — through email, news, and word-of-mouth — and not even realize they’re not learning the truth. Almost nobody bothers to fact-check things they see or hear, and they just keep passing it along. Then, when someone DOES tell them that there’s a problem with what was presented as fact, those people who have become so entrenched in the lies get defensive about it, usually belligerently defending the source of their information.

Again, this is a major problem!  I deal with people like this on a daily basis. Passing along even a sliver of bad information (through apathy and negligence) is wrong. It’s irresponsible. And it’s contributing to the dumbing-down of America.

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  1. November 11, 2010 at 12:37 am

    You are totally correct on this. I might be wrong, but in my opinion, this points to far more than simple intellectual laziness. I think there is a fundamental difference between the brain that seeks to know as much truth as possible about everything, and one which will accept virtually anything without question.

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:15 am

      That might be, Temy; a fundamental physiological difference. But I contend that there is too much intellectual laziness these days.

      We’re supposed to be leaving each generation after us with more knowledge than we had, yet I see just the opposite happening.

  2. November 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Excellent. Nice job as always. Peace, howie

    • November 12, 2010 at 12:59 am

      Thanks Howie! ♥

  3. November 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This is a very serious problem in our newly information-driven society. The internet (at least until they destroy net neutrality) is the great equalizer when it comes to information. Society has broken free from the information stranglehold wielded by the big networks and newspapers.

    The only problem is now, any yokel with an internet connections can pass along information. If it fits their views on the world, they can spread it far and wide without consequences (regardless of any lies it may contain).

    Tech savvy, or the lack thereof, has a lot to do with this too. People who know how to navigate the net will be able to verify facts. New internet users will be more inclined to believe anything that hits their inbox.

    • November 17, 2010 at 5:12 am

      It’s not just the newbies that are inclined to believe anything. I know people who have been online for many years, and STILL pass along stupid shit.

      This whole post was in response to someone who emailed me something about the dollar bill. I had to modify it a little to make it a blog post, but it’s almost word for word what I replied to the sender. And this person has been online for many many years.

      I encounter this all the time. Now, most family and friends will send me something, ask if it’s valid, THEN send it along (if it’s valid). But occasionally they still fall prey to the hoax or badly researched bit of nonsense.

      At least I got people to stop sending me chain mail … “do this and something wonderful will happen to you” crap.

  4. November 16, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    You are so right. It bothers me a good deal. Sometimes I do get the feeling that the misinformation could be deliberate?…

    Glad i found you here.

    • November 17, 2010 at 5:13 am

      Oh, I’m SURE some of the misinformation is deliberate. Some of it probably started by someone with an agenda.

      Glad you found me, too. How did you find me?

      • November 17, 2010 at 8:06 am

        Moosehammer linked this blog and of course I remembered you.

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