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Everybody's an Expert

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When Al Gore invented the Internet (kidding) I bet he never thought something like this would happen. The real tragedy of Carolyn Kay's story ["Stand by Your Man," November 16] is not that she has an opinion, or that thousands upon thousands of people read it. The real issue is that the Internet has made everyone an expert. In about an hour, I can get a Web address, fill it full of convincing HTML and authors, and suddenly I am a recognized expert on an issue. I am listed on Google and every other search engine. Now, take an issue as partisan as the election. I form a Web site just as I did above about the election, and suddenly I am receiving hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors a day. My site is taken as seriously as CNN or any other site on the net. (If you do not believe this is true, the Onion has been quoted verbatim many times in European papers.)

So, are the things being said by Kay true? That is a partisan issue. Are they informed? I would say that they are not. I would say that I remember when the media coverage was all about Bush, roughly six months before the election. I would say that I saw a negative change in the media coverage of Bush about a month into the election race. I would say that I have heard the audio clip where Gore does in fact imply that he helped formulate the Internet. I would also say that when Kay claims that Bush "has taken us from peace and prosperity to war and recession" that both could be factors of the Clinton administration; he was president for the prior eight years. I would say all of these things, but I would not put them on a Web site. Why? Because I am not informed enough to make these calls, and I realize that due to the way information is presented on the Internet my voice is suddenly on par with the hundreds of other sites people can find with the click of a few keys. In short, due to the tendency of the public to seek out information that reinforces their own beliefs and a glut of misinformed sources, people like Kay are dangerous because they care. Citizens are ignorant because they listen.

Chad H. Mummert

S. Wacker

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