Death of the questioning ability

With availability of Internet we have a sea of information. Sites like Google, Wikipedia and Facebook have actively helped in the dissemination of information through the millions of Internet users. But the real question is has the availability of such vast information made us smarter ? Have we become more intelligent ? Or have we joined the dark side of the force, by choosing to believe wrong information ?

The reason for this rant post is a recent observation on Facebook – the resharing of online hoaxes. These objects are germinated by ill minded individuals and are propagated then by gullible and naive commoners who believe they are actually making a change by spreading it to others. Over the past week I have 4 different hoax articles on facebook.

  1. Cough CPR – If you are having heart attack, then you can cough your way out.
  2. Thieves throwing eggs on windshield – Muggers on highways throw eggs on your car windshield and when you activate your wipers, the eggs make your windshield opaque by 92.5 %. You stop to clean it and then the muggers attack you.
  3. Child with rash – Reshare it so that he gets some money
  4. Flash light can conduct electricity – A guy got electrocuted when he was trying to take a picture near a train, which had a high voltage line above it.

These are just what I saw over the past week mind you. If I start compiling over a month or year there would be many more. There is a pattern here. In some of the cases, people tend to get emotional than logical like the child with rash case. A more frequent and quite scaring case is when people think “What is the harm in resharing ? I dont lose anything !”. A simple googling of these hoaxes will prove that they are wrong, but people don’t do that. In most cases, they CHOOSE to believe what they see. The relative ease with which people get information, makes them believe what they see is true. They don’t WANT to take the effort to verify the claims.

This is true with most of modern technology. I always felt that technology is made to make people more lazy, let it be automobiles, TV,computers, mobile phones whatever. Since laziness is subjective, technology will never die. But the onus is on us to make us active and stay alert. Just like we hit the gym to gain the activity we lost, we have to make sure that we don’t get lazy about our questioning ability. Just like we ask ‘How does this machine work ?’ ,’What is the principle behind that phenomenon ?’ we must ask questions like ‘What is your source ?’,’What proof do you have ?’, etc. In this context, I am amazed at how Thiruvalluvar preached this thought centuries ago.
” எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு.  ”
“To discern the truth in every thing, by whomsoever spoken, is wisdom. ”

As a starter I would suggest everyone visit this site www.hoax-slayer.com. All the above hoaxes have been disproved there. Here is a guy who has dedicated his life to disprove online hoaxes. Kudos to him.

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3 Responses to Death of the questioning ability

  1. ankit says:

    Get over Star Wars in everything you write, will you?

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