I’m interested in how the Internet serves to amplify human perceptions, to the point where we can instantly google up the information to prove or disprove factual assertions. Surely, this will have ushered in a brave new era of enlightened thought and rationality.
Or not. It turns out that the net is just as happy to serve up confirmatory swill to feed into our confirmation bias, and help us organize with like-minded loons to disseminate The Truth about lizard people or faked moon landings or geocentrism or whatever. More here and here.
This recent item from Chris Mooney tells an interesting story about the last time someone thought a revolutionary communications medium was going to usher in a new era of truth and rationality. It was Condorcet, back in 1794, talking about the Internet of his day: How the Printing Press Ensures Eternal Enlightenment (Or So They Thought in the 18th Century).
Sigh. Technology only gets you so far. The wetware remains a problem. PEBKAC, as we used to observe in tech support.