The Internet Mega-bias

  On the internet I’ve begun to wonder if in fact there is a rule for ignorance. Perhaps some sort of internet mega-bias. I’ve often found it funny that you need a license to drive a car but not to have a child or surf the internet. I know this is an old adage that has probably been joked about many times before I even knew about the inner bowels of the internet (which I likely don’t, I’m probably looking at the shoulders and thinking I’m in deeper).

  While in and of itself the following is a blanket statement I would err on the side of caution that all people reading the following try their best to agree with it:

“If you think you aren’t ignorant on the subject you are ranting about you most certainly are ignorant.”

  It’s in part I feel the nature of ranting, when we don’t understand something we begin to talk about it passionately. If you find yourself using name calling during your rant you are basically setting the level of ignorance in the discussion, the more you discount your ‘opponents’ argument the even more likely that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  I’m not about to feign that I’m immune from the issue either, there is not a single topic on this planet that I do not have some level of ignorance in. I don’t fully understand (and for a few of these examples I barely understand) the economy, astrophysics, commercials, psychology, philosophy, English, grammar, or even stream ecology. I’m willing to admit that, and I feel that is likely the first step to hearty debate instead of fruitless childish banter.

  If you are looking for very good examples of what incredibly ignorant banter looks like I’d suggest checking out the political forum of absolutely any entertainment site. Likewise just about any thread in the entirety of a site called Topix. There is something about it that seems to brood emotional drivel.

  There is something very interesting about the nature of communication, an inverse relationship that seems to come out as follows:

The louder you are is directly proportionate to how little you know.

  There are most certainly exceptions to this rule as there are with any rule in the universe of rules. That being the difference between impassioned speech and ‘decibel’ levels. As I’ve stated before people like Dr. Tyson and Dr. Pinker (two people I highly suggest watching speeches by) are incredibly impassionate about what they are discussing and yet they are not loud.

  Further clarification comes from what I mean by loud, when a person begins to talk to you in a manner that seems to imply that you are below them they are being loud. Even in conversations via text there are tell-tale signs that this is happening. Italics tends to be a very good indicator for the very savvy ranters of our world. Likewise when a person implies that your sources are some level of meek, while generally not providing any themselves and/or stating theirs are infinitely more reliable (which is the case likely because of Confirmation Bias and other factors I have no real understanding of quite yet).

  If you ever cite Wikipedia and the other person shoots that down, I highly suggest citing the sources the Wikipedia entry cites. Even in college this will take your grade from a B to an A and all you have done is left an area with a stigma for areas that don’t. Wikipedia is roughly as accurate (and sometimes more accurate) than Encyclopedia Britannica, yet see which of the two your professor or “Commander_Keen_39” will accept as legitimate.

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica
Wikipedia survives research test
Wikipedia:Errors in the Encyclopædia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia
Assessing Wikipedia’s Accuracy

  I know that might have felt like a bit of a runoff on the conversation but its to prove a point (and admittedly a bit of a tangent…I drift in thought easily), just because you don’t feel a source is legitimate doesn’t mean that it isn’t. You should instead try to provide more sources from places you feel are credible and discuss why you feel they are credible. Otherwise what is the point?

  This may in part be why I find myself debating less and less online. At this point most people feel the point of a conversation is to argue, and not in the literal sense of an argument, but in the more Hollywoodesque clash of the titans way. It’s a shame too that a source of such vast amounts of information would be blanketed in a thick layer of ranting banter.

  Generally speaking if someone responds to your points in an obviously demeaning manner, it is best just to ignore them. You cannot change the views of the truly ignorant because ignorance is bliss, to jump back on my Hollywood comment think of it like the movie Shallow Hall.

[after Mauricio broke Hal’s spell]
Hal: Okay, who do you think is the most beautiful woman in the world?
Mauricio: Wonder Woman.
Hal: Okay… let’s say everyone else in the world thought Wonder Woman was ugly.
Mauricio: It wouldn’t matter. Because I know they’d be wrong.
Hal: See! That’s what I had with Rosemary! I saw a knock out, I don’t care what anybody else saw!
Mauricio: You’re right. I guess I really did screw you, huh?

  So think of it like that. The person who just walked into your conversation see’s their Wonder Woman being called ugly. They will battle you because they feel there can be absolutely nothing wrong with Wonder Woman. Likewise if you manage to help them see the light most of the time it’s not for the better. Anyone who is that infatuated with Wonder Woman will not do something positive enough with their newfound information to offset the negative impact on them by the destruction of that veil of ignorance.

  Perhaps if you could convince millions of people in a flash that Wonder Woman was ugly you might make something happen. But those one on one bouts on the internet do nothing but sanction your energy and waste your time. At least that’s my thoughts on the issue…who knows maybe someday someone will write a long book on the wonders of the Internet-Mega bias :).

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