Wise words from kind cousin

Taking the Easy Lazy Road becomes Easier

In addition to lapping up propaganda like it is the gospel, fanatical extremists also usually take the easy road in seeking truth.  It makes sense for lazy thinkers to accept propaganda that reinforces their biases.  Why think through issues when getting the “truth” from someone who shares my biases and ignores all other available facts is much easier?  [Ignorance is the act of ignoring.]  However, modern information technology has allowed these folks to increase and amplify their superficial faux understanding of the world with even LESS effort.

I am interested in history, not only in the broad-brush strokes of academic history but also in detailed, personal histories (aka, genealogy.)  The advent of the internet revolutionized genealogy.  In the distant past, genealogy was arcanely practiced with labor-intensive, non-digital tools.  One had to drive to a library, county clerk’s office, or other paper or microfilm repositories to investigate ancestors.  When a significant record was found, it was necessary to pump quarters or dollars into a copy machine.

Over the last 30 years, many genealogical websites and services have sprung up to replace old-fashioned research techniques.  Researchers no longer need to drive anywhere, beg librarians for research materials, or create truckloads of paper research material.  Increasingly, most vital records have been digitized and indexed for easy retrieval, collation, and storage.

These internet-based services have revolutionized genealogical research.  It is now almost effortless to research our ancestors.  It has become so effortless that a lazy researcher can easily accept nonsensical information as accurate. This slipshod research is facilitated by websites that provide “hints” to researchers.  These hints should not be taken at face value, but lazy researchers regularly accept almost all of them as accurate.  It is commonplace to see family trees with great-grandmothers who bore children at age 7 or 70 and ancestors whose occupation was a lawyer in 1860, a bricklayer in 1870, and a farmer in 1880.  Why think for yourself when you can click and accept what the computer suggests or hints?

Likewise, most forms of social media provide easy and equal access to factual information and blatant propaganda.  Since propagandists are likelier to target and attract lazy thinkers, these purportedly “neutral” social media sites reinforce lazy thinking and transmute blatant lies into truth.  Advances in artificial intelligence have allowed and will continue to allow propaganda to become even more effective.


Thanks to my cousin, Leland Vandiver

(In response to my “Almost had a heart attack” blog message.)

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