Thursday, January 04, 2007

In The Hands Of Fools Wikipedia Is A Dangerous Weapon

In The Hands Of Fools Wikipedia Is A Dangerous Weapon


Wikipedia On The Brain

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters - Frank Lloyd Wright In the annals of the Internet revolution there is no doubt that Wikipedia will go down as one of the greatest achievements. It is a phenomenal exercise in attempting to put up a compendium of knowledge on the Internet available to anyone. Those that keep this encyclopedia running and available deserve nothing but our respect and admiration.

But...yes there is a BIG BUT here...

Wikipedia is not the begin and end of all knowledge. It is not the last word. Indeed many things that find their way on to the virtual pages of Wikipedia should simply be eliminated without pause. Indeed sometimes Wikipedia entries are a mishkabobble of gobbledygook that does not deserve to be in a comic strip let alone in an encyclopedia.

Yet this is really a blessing in disguise. It should teach us, when we do come across some ridiculous entry, that we always must search a bit more than just beginning and ending on the pages of Wikipedia.

There is no doubt that any undertaking of such magnitude will at times be the cause of debate and derision among people. Sometimes valid sometimes invalid. Nevertheless that is why there are "Talk" pages in Wikipedia. That is why there are editors. Wikipedia has done what it can to place a system of "checks and balances" into most of what goes up.

Still, it cannot be denied that the people writing the articles, are often motivated by other factors other than the pure dissemination of knowledge. After all, they are only human. Thus in the fields of politics, religion, historical analysis and indeed anything that demands analysis and opinion Wikipedia can become a very tainted educational experience.

All in all though Wikipedia does and I hope will continue to do an excellent job.

However, many people, perhaps more often those who really do not have a storehouse of knowledge in their brain, approach Wikipedia as if it was part of the Sinaiatic Revelation. It is the first and last stop on their search for knowledge, fact and opinion. There is nothing else in between. Indeed, Wikipedia is their only stop.

One thing about fools. They do not know they are fools. Indeed they think they are incredibly smart and full of knowledge and wisdom. Fools suffer themselves well.

One of my close "virtual" friends whose name is Beth, and I will not reveal anymore cause this lady is super-secretive, recently revealed to me that she has a private quotation database. I answered her email saying, "You are one weird woman!" She answered back with quotes. Well, now I am convinced a quotation database is not such a bad idea. (As she quoted in the comments: "The problem with keeping an open mind is that your brains tend to fall all over the floor.")

Like this quote below:
I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters - Frank Lloyd Wright
Well if we can paraphrase that a bit, let us just replace "typewriters" with "word processing programs on computers". You see the more I am reading and skimming these days the more I am coming to the conclusion that some people should be banned from ever typing out their foolish ideas and thoughts.

Oh don't worry. I am only half-serious. It is good to read the fools from time to time. It helps me keep perspective. It helps me stay balanced. It also reminds me that some people were in the bathroom when God gave out brains and they missed their turn.

Of course, as civilized human beings we must be nice and if we chose to answer we must do so in the best and most civilized way possible. After all fools don't really know they are fools. They take themselves deadly seriously. It is a conundrum at best.

Why is it that some people who call themselves "writers" are truly beginning to scare me these days? Why is it that any utterance that comes from the pen of struggling writers must be accepted as intelligent and full of thought? Why is it that anyone who can use a "virtual" pen in less than a day becomes a "writer and author" even though their "virtual minds" are empty? Why is it that we get the distinct feeling when reading the musing and ideas of some people on blogs and forum boards we begin to think the person writing was in the bathroom when God gave out brains?

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect - Edward Gibbon So you are now sitting gleefully waiting for me to name names? Go after the fools. Sigh. It truly is not worth it. It is an exercise in futility. Never argue or discuss with fools. You see many of them hide behind made up names. Others use their own persona - their real persona on line. They use signatures like "Sapere aude" (look that up in Wikipedia or or call themselves "rebel" probably with some notion that makes them stand out or look "sophisticated". Sometimes they do not call themselves anything, assured that those who read their words full of hatred and self-loathing will appreciate their intelligence and wit.

Here is another quote for you:
I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect - Edward Gibbon
They practice "Wikipedia on the brain" with a great deal of expertise. Their computer has allowed them to become geniuses overnight. A simple search and voila - fact, truth and revelation. Nothing can argue with it. Nothing can be said. They hold the keys of truth. The hatred, loathing, self-aggrandizement all come out.

The problem with keeping an open mind is that your brains tend to fall all over the floor. It is insidious. It is not new. Pass yourself off as an open-minded, freedom loving human who loves all mankind (with the exception of one or two nations or races) and everyone just wants to give you a big hug. You are lovable. You are so nice. You always want justice and truth. You need to find a way to save humanity from itself. You are so damn open-minded.

But in the scheme of things there is always a sacrifice. There is always the "evil". There is always the "enemy". And because of your past or your inner self-loathing or even one small event in your life in which hate made a deep scar in you - the enemy will be blamed for every possible and conceivable ill on the face of the earth. Facts can be twisted. Indeed all one has to do is repeat the lie long enough, loud enough and often enough - and people will believe it. The Nazis used the "doctrine of the lie" to great effectiveness. Why should a fool not do the same?

You tell the world you are a writer. A wise person. A rebel. An author. Whatever. You sit back and you judge. You have no clue or idea - but the topic you choose will always give you the soapbox. It is impossible for you not to talk or speak. You get upset and whine when people do not listen to you.

If all the above sounds familiar - like you are looking in the mirror - wave hello to the fool.

"Sapere aude", by the way, is a Latin phrase meaning "Dare to know" or "Dare to be wise", or sometimes translated as "Have courage to use your own reason". And so you announce to the world the depth of your own knowledge, the desire to find more and ever more - because you are wise and courageous.

Thing is, Fools are the only people who call themselves wise. Thing is fools are the only people who think they have courage to use reason. Thing is to be wise others must see you as so. To be courageous - you must accomplish a courageous act. Thing is, fools are simply, how does one say it - oh yes - fools are simply fools. Nothing more. A great deal less at times. Some fools are evil. Hatred-driven. Sick with jealousy. Bitter. Which makes them dangerous. The only thing worse than a fool, is a dangerous fool.

No matter how much they want us to recognize their wisdom, it just does not happen. Toss the coin, turn it around, dip it in polish - the same thing still shines through. The fool.

Silly little names and signatures do not make you wise. Even if they are in Latin. They do not make you knowledgeable. Wikipedia will not make you into a Rhodes Scholar. And no matter how much one tries, hatred - vile, disgusting and rabid - always seeps through. Fools are too full of themselves to see it though, as they are too busy calling themselves wise and courageous and knowledgeable.

Thing is one thing about a fool - they only suffer themselves as no one else can.

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind


Paula said...

How true this is. Of course those who believe and trust in the "fools" often feel like a fool.
Luckily we can brush it off and learn from the experience.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Here's another quote for you, Teddy. It's from me (as far as I know, I've never heard anyone else say this):

The problem with keeping an open mind is that your brains tend to fall all over the floor.

Ted W. Gross said...

Paula you insane woman you...thank you for the reality check..

b.e. you always make me laugh....and I am putting that quote in the article!

alternatefish said...

"you can educate a fool, but you cannot make him think."
--The Talmud

Georganna Hancock said...

Thanks for adding ammunition to my augument against using Wikipedia as a primary source reference for writers.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes. Well said.

-Suirattigas at AW

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of
fools. Let's start with typewriters.
Frank Lloyd Wright

That's inaccurate. It's not Frank Lloyd Wright. It's David Gerrold
writing as Solomon Short, published in his 1984 novel, A Matter For

David said...

I think it's ironic that in a column about how information on the internet can't always be trusted, you use a quote that was never said by Frank Lloyd Wright, but was actually written by David Gerrold at the head of Chapter Six of A Matter For Men, first published in 1984 and republished by Bantam in 1992.