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Self Imposed Ignorance

Updated on April 7, 2013

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You are in one of, if not the, most significant point in all of human history. Why? Because of one simple invention that changed the world and the future of the human race. The Internet. What is the internet? It's more applicable to ask what the Internet is not. But in the effort to save time, the internet is literally the sum of most all human knowledge that has been acquired up to this point in our history. Excluding such tragedies as the fire that took down the Royal Library of Alexandria or other lost texts/knowledge.

We homo-sapiens are creatures of learning. Or to put it another way "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants". We advance and improve because of the sacrifices, knowledge and experience of those before us. I would say at this point the argument can be made that our evolution is no longer only genetic but technological as well. If we are to continue to advance our species and ourselves, we must use all of the tools available to us. We must recognize that although you may be entitled to your opinion you most certainly are not entitled to your own facts. The one great challenge of the internet is separating what is fact from superstition, ignorance and flat out lies.

With this said, ignorance of truth and information in this day in age in a free society such as America is overwhelming. I saw a great picture once that summed this up well

Although people will and do purposely try to mislead others on their quest for knowledge, the blame may only lay on the person who does not verify what they are told. We must always strive toward the truth and where the evidence leads us, regardless of what this might mean for our long held beliefs and knowledge. For example read the following story which seems to make circuits on social networking sites, this will reinforce some peoples beliefs simply by saying what a lot of people want to hear(this is not an attack on your personal beliefs just an example of what simple fact checking can accomplish):

I have seen this posted many times, and again this isn't a refutation of christianity or any other belief but much more aimed at Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was Agnostic at best a Deist, this story is completely false.

"Moreover, in his Autobiographical Notes, Einstein stated that his "deep religiosity" as a Jewish child ended at the age of 12 when he developed a skeptical attitude towards God."

Full Quote - "Thus I a deep religiosity, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached a conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true....Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this attitude which has never left me."

To be fair he felt the same about Atheists as he did about believers. But people will say that science takes just as much faith as religion. Well no, science is the attempt to dissolve faith by empirical data, observation and testing. Faith is literally 'belief that is not based on proof'. Science is the exact opposite - "a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws" or "knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study." if you prefer. So when we read the story and see

'Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?'

You must understand that this statement is the direct result of absence of knowledge, or belief that is not based on proof. If whoever wrote this story spent 5 minutes on Google they would be overwhelmed with the factual evidence of evolution that has been observed, tested and proven. Science has reasonable expectations based on evidence and observed conditions that are tested, debated and finally agreed upon by peers in the relative field of study to come to a consensus about reality and the laws that create it.

With the Internet I am convinced that one of the major contributing factors of instances such as misinformation or "Trolling" or other lewd acts is that there is no real social repercussion. The famous atheist Sam Harris has said about Elvis what I say about the internet. "Whenever someone seriously represents his belief that Elvis is still alive in a conversation, on a first date, at a lecture, at a job interview he immediately pays a price, in ill concealed laughter." There is a social repercussion for spewing nonsense or causing an altercation when you are face to face with a person that just simply doesn't exist on the internet. Which means that all things on the internet fall to you to verify. Only you can stop yourself from being willfully ignorant.


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