In total, companies spend billions of dollars and individuals spend millions of hours improving Internet search engines, adding new features to Web browsers, enhancing the richness of the Web media delivery methods and creating or augmenting a whole host of other Web-related technologies.
I am grateful for all of the wonderful stuff that these companies and individuals throw at us. I’m particularly appreciative because many of them don’t charge us to use their stuff.
Nonetheless, one potential breakthrough technology that we desperately need but, as far as I can tell, don’t yet have, is a Web-based bullshit detector.
Here’s the problem that I see with the internet: Absolutely anybody can publish absolutely anything at almost no cost. In fact, if you don’t count the value of people’s time, the free blogging and wiki services let them do it for free. As a result, the BS flows freely and often overwhelms any wisdom that somehow manages to sneak onto the Net despite all of the obstacles in its way.
I’m not talking about fiction that is published as fiction. That’s put there for our enjoyment and I’m free to judge whether I do, indeed, enjoy it.
What I am talking about are the people who publish fiction, but label it as fact. Sometimes these people have convinced themselves, based on absolutely nothing, that what they are saying is reality. Fine, but if you’re going to spew your baseless mental maunderings, please warn me that, while you believe it to be true, you have absolutely no empirical basis for your beliefs.
This wouldn’t be a problem if there were a method to quickly drill through the bilge to get to the valuable stuff, but I haven’t found any way to do that.
You know what they say, “bullshit baffles brains.” Well, if BS baffles whole brains, what hope do us half-wits have to distinguish between sense and nonsense. If I knew enough to know whether authors of alleged nonfiction had done credible research and were telling me truths, then I wouldn’t need to read those authors’ words in the first place.
I don’t mean to come off as sanctimonious, but I clearly label my crap. I boldly include the word “Nonsense” in the title of this blog. And I doubt that many people put too much faith in the other noun in the title, “Stuff,” either.
If you’re too lazy to cast your eyes up to the title, or if you’re too stupid to realize that the word “Nonsense” is my way of telling you that I’m clueless about everything, then it’s not my fault if you ruin your life by basing your beliefs or actions on something I’ve said.
Unfortunately, not all Internet authors are as conscientious as I am. They crap their crap onto the Internet and pretend that they have a freaking clue when, in fact, they don’t.
I know what you’re going to say. The Internet didn’t invent the problem. That’s true. People have been intentionally or unintentionally publishing BS from the very first days that people published anything at all. I may be a cynic, but I suspect that the earliest cavepeople’s grunts were designed to pull the wool over their fellow cavepeople’s eyes.
(Yes, I do know that the term cavepeople, rather than cavemen, sounds awkward, but I recently spent a lot of time responding to religious devotees who objected to my previous post. I’m now too tired to have to deal with the excessively politically correct crowd too.)
You know how it probably went. Ogg, a caveman (note to politically correct crowd: because it’s a specific caveperson I had to pick a gender; I picked male; sue me), loudly gives the grunt that means, “There’s a weakened woolly mammoth loitering around the watering hole. It should be easy to hunt it.” The other cavemen (note to politically correct crowd: to hell with you; the ones I’m talking aboutÂ allÂ happen to be male) then rush out with their spears to search fruitlessly for the alleged animal. While they’re gone, Ogg goes in to their caves and screws their wives. No, the Internet didn’t invent deception.
Nonetheless, before the Internet came a long it usually cost a lot of money to spew garbage quickly out to the masses. True, demanding money is not a very democratic means of deciding who gets to disseminate disinformation to the great unwashed multitudes, but I’ve never claimed to be socialist.
The high cost meant that people generally had to have a very strong, self-serving reason for deluding everyone before they would do so. Not that that stopped them; there were just fewer of them.
And because there were fewer of them, people who made it their job to uncover the balderdash could address more of the nonsense than they possibly can today.
I’m not proposing doing away with the Internet. It’s provided some amazing benefits along with its incredible annoyances. What I’m looking for is a fully automated browser and email plug-in that will filter out and/or warn me about the BS.
Because of the dangers of false-positives, the technology should block bullshit sites and emails only very sparingly, but a warning system would be helpful in all cases.
The sort of thing I’m thinking of is a browser plug-in that will, as I surf the Web, pop-up warning messages such as the following:
- This site may contain a shred or two of truth, but you’ll have trouble finding those shreds among the copious crap. Use at your own risk.
- This site is 100 percent pure hogwash. Then again, it’s such unadulterated nonsense that you may find it amusing, although the author likely thought he or she was being serious. Enjoy it, but don’t depend on in it for anything other than entertainment.
- The authors of this site appear to honestly believe that they know what they are talking about, but they are thoroughly deluding themselves. If you are in a position to do so, you’d be well-advised to have them committed.
- In the entire course of it’s existence, this site has never come within miles of anything that could possibly be described as wise or truthful. What’s more, there are no socially or culturally redeeming features. View it only if you are a complete idiot and you are eager to increase your idiocy.
That’s the sort of thing I’m looking for. Does anyone know if such a technology exists? If so, I’m hoping it doesn’t block my site, despite there being ample justification for doing so.
Categorised as: Internet