August 18, 2003

Navel-Gazing month continues....

Whelp, once again I'm at a loss to find anything to blog about. It's not so bad; even Steven Den Beste says he's having writer's block.
So what I'm gonna do is post a comment I made at the uncharacteristically pen-sheathed Bill Whittle's entry titled "Magic: the Gathering" back in June (during my hiatus from blogging.) Take my advice and read the entire thread of comments; it's magic!
This post was just an observation I had about the effects of the blogosphere:

About two years ago a friend and I were sitting in McSorley's Ale House decrying the growing number of crackpot internet sites. We both worried about the capacity for well-written propoganda, easily reached through search engines, to influence the under-informed or the under-critical. Any agenda driven sophist with a website and some blarney could post anything; without fact checking, references, peer review or accountablity.

One of my complaints was that I'd wasted some time at a site that claimed to have a convincing theory of Gravity, complete with excrutiating mathmatics and observational evidence. The theory basically held that Gravity was a product of Universal Expansion. The math was suspect, the observation was theoretical, and, at the end, the fella finally admitted that he probably didn't know what the crud he was talking about.
Harmless in the end. But other sites dealing with other subjects could be harmful to the unsuspecting curious and gullible.
We, of course, didn't advocate any form of regulation/censorship; we were just concerned for the future of critical thinking and fact-based debate.

But recent events seem to show us (me, anyways) that the effect of the internet -- the free exchange of ideas and debate -- is actually having the opposite effect.
It's not the garbage on the internet that seems to have been in need our communal critique; it's the garbage in the "old media." The crisis at the New York Times, and exposing Michael Moore's "documentaries" for the dishonest propoganda that they are are just two examples of the Blogosphere having real effect by throwing light on the hitherto dark corners where the media mogul roaches used to be able to rest unmolested by fact-checkers.

And even a non-daily updated site like this -- with essays and Comments threads -- serves as a great forum for admirers and dissenters and keeps us all on our toes.

So, thanks Bill for making the time and effort to write these gems.

Posted by: Tuning Spork on June 7, 2003 02:13 PM

Posted by Tuning Spork at August 18, 2003 11:23 PM

The field of human psychology is filled with Web sites that are of questionable accuracy. Some of them are downright weird, and visiting them can be disastrous to troubled individuals looking for advice. Even well-known names such as the New York Times cannot be trusted unconditionally - the spirit of Jason Blair has infiltrated their coverage of the behavioral sciences. I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but at least I'm a professional fact-checker (with a master's degree in library science from the University of Hawaii), and my Web site has passed the scrutiny of not less than two psychologists.

Posted by: Bloodthirsty Warmonger at August 19, 2003 11:28 AM

Amen, and kudos; and there many "reality sites" out there for all fields such as (paranormal), (medicine), and of course,! (everything)
The trick is to find the way to let people know that quacks and crack-pots are a dime a dozen on the web, but that there are island's of Truth, run by competent and generous experts in their fields.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 19, 2003 11:57 PM
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