Continuing on my post from last week by the same title, I read an article on MSN today that sheds light into the topic of credibility. A 22 year-old university student from Dublin, Shane Fitzgerald, decided to try his own sociology experiment on Wikipedia. He made up a quote and put it on the page of a recently deceased composer named Maurice Jarre as having been said by the deceased person. His plan was to see whether the inaccurate quote would be caught and deleted, or whether it would spread as truth. His conclusion? “Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.”
You can read the full article here. Basically, Wikipedia caught and deleted the quote shortly after it was put on the site, but not before numerous blogs and newspaper sites cited the quote along with their article on the composer. Very few were willing to admit their mistake even after he brought it to their attention.
He showed that many “credible” news agencies simple copied and pasted off of a Wikipedia article for their story without researching for themselves. As Fitzgerald poignantly stated, “It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.” We have bought into a culture where it takes too much time and effort to think for ourselves, so we rely on others to do it for us.
Especially in Christianity, I’m amazed how easily the “herd mentality” takes over and people want you to think for them. What books are “safe” for me to read? What music can I enjoy? Which people should I listen to? Whatever happened to using our God-given minds and having a little ownership? As 1 Thessalonians 5:21 states, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Most of us don’t know what we believe and so we are incapable of testing new ideas. I for one have no desire to join the herd and allow others to process information and spoon feed me. I commit to reading, studying, praying, and always opening my mind to new ideas and to understanding truth better than I did before. Anyone with me?