Is Information From The Internet Bad When Not Accurate?
Last year, I received an e-mail from my sister in which she forwarded something that was, supposedly, written by Andy Rooney. Here is an excerpt of what she sent.
“If you will take the time to read these. I promise you’ll come away with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis: They’re written by Andy Rooney , a man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words. Enjoy…….
I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.
I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned…. That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.
I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.
The entire message, attributed to Rooney, can be found here.
I went to Snopes.com to see if they thought that Andy Rooney had written it. They said no, it was not written by Rooney. When I searched, through Google, using the following four words, “andy rooney i’ve learned,” I got close to one million hits. The first few pages of the search results were websites using what Rooney supposedly wrote or said as quoted above. Most said it was from Andy Rooney and even gave a bibliography of him. According to Snopes.com, it isn’t something he wrote or said.
If Andy Rooney didn’t write the message, is it good? If you think so, then I guess it is good for you. :-) But, what about the lack of accuracy regarding who wrote it?
Suppose someone incorrectly says something is from the Bible? Suppose someone incorrectly says something is from the written law of the land, for example, the United States Constitution? In cases like these, we are often less skeptical due to the mentioned source. In other words, we accept them and their message(s) because we respect the source. I think this is happening much more now due to the ease of getting information from the internet. The problem is, how do we determine the accuracy of the information we are getting through web-searches and/or social media?
What we need is a way to assess the information we get. What should we use for our standards of assessment? The one standard that immediately comes to mind is “accuracy.” How do we determine accuracy? Well, I used “Snopes.com” for one reference to help determine accuracy. But, I am cognizant of the possibility that “Snopes.com” could be wrong. I think, if we are wanting to be more sure of the accuracy of information from the internet, we are going to have to find different unrelated sources that reflect the accuracy or inaccuracy of what we are checking.
In summary, I think the inaccuracy of something being attributed to Andy Rooney in the above example doesn’t make the message bad, but it could have! We, as consumers of the information we find on the internet, should assume the responsibility of determining its accuracy, especially before using it or passing it on. The inaccurate information isn’t necessarily good or bad, but the person using inaccurate information as accurate isn’t doing any of us any good! :-(
What do you think; am I accurate? :-)
I have learned to question and research the validity of almost every attribution I see in my email or on the internet, or for that matter, in print.
On a related note, there are some pretty famous quotes that are ‘attributed’ to the Bible, but don’t actually appear there. Perhaps the most famous is, “God helps those who help themselves.” (real source: Algernon Sydney, 1698. But likely it wouldn’t have become so well known if Ben Franklin hadn’t included it in Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1757)
Thanks for the comment. I appreciated your related note regarding the famous quote: “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s another example of how the intellectual standard of accuracy isn’t used enough.
Public libraries are always a good place to verify information. Don’t overlook the libraries in your local community.