Mulder: I want to believe.
Scully: Mulder, that is science fiction.
–from The X-Files
“I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil.
And that no one knows the truth.”
― Molly Ivins
Again, a couple of Twitter posts inspired this blog entry. (I think I need to get out more. *laugh*)
The internet is a great place. So much information at your fingertips. Historical documents accessible to all, without the expense of a plane trip halfway around the world. And, yes, being human, I’ve definitely spent my share of time looking at trivial things on the internet (*coughs* cat videos), and I’ve even been known to indulge in reading the occasional online horoscope–for entertainment purposes only–but I don’t view it as gospel truth. Even we anal-retentive historians, who live for facts, are perpetually questioning Truth with a capital T, even in books by us and our fellow academic smarty-pants
Why? Because our minds are fallible, complicated by emotions, a passion for jumping to conclusions, and plagued (or enhanced by!) a fantastic imagination.
So, since the internet is the creation of a huge diversity of mind-power, it goes without saying that information via internet doesn’t have its issues.
All information on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, unless verified by a valid source. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the triteness of celebrity gossip, or actual scientific articles by a heavy hitter like the Smithsonian–please, always read all content with an analytical eye.
Again, why? Because I feel that learning how to think, analyze, question, is an important part of the mind’s development. As a former/future teacher, I always focus more on getting kids to think, to examine the content put in front of them–not just take it on blind faith–not even what I am telling them. (As you may have guessed, I’m not a supporter of rote learning, or of standardized education.) And the internet is the perfect example of the pitfalls of that lack of educational training.
When we begin to accept anything and everything as truth, without question, then we sacrifice not only our intellect but our capacity for independent thought. We are just giving away our right to question whether something is true or false, right or wrong, or even change our minds by our growing and evolving pool of knowledge and consciousness.
(I love fantasy and flights of imagination and magic and mystery and synchronicity and serendipity, but I’m also a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson–examples here and here.)
That’s how we sign over control of not only our own selves, but that of our own planet. Our own world. You see, I don’t really believe that people, in general, are really that callous about the state of our planet, climate change deniers included.
We’ve just gotten in the habit of using ignorance as a shield of protection from all the horrible, nightmarish things going on out there–this world is an overwhelming place/time to live in, with all the things we have to face every day, most as a direct result of our lifestyle choices. I was just reading Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins (my reading list is a trifle behind the times, but the book is still illuminating all the same), and she’s talking about the impact of polluted sites left behind by corporate Big Business on people’s health, something about “what you can’t see, CAN hurt you”.
This post, yes, is a bit rambling in nature. But the point is, yes, read, read read, even if it is on the internet, but question it all, even if, like Mulder, you “want to believe”. Because it is possible to be a dreamer like Mulder, but also a shrewd skeptic like Scully, all in one mind/body. To be a romantic and a pragmatist–that’s what defines the human experience.