Is it just me, or is crackpotism on the rise?

There’s a lot of good stuff on the internet.  Plenty of great information.  It’s certainly changed the way we think.  Almost anything is Googleable.  Whether it’s accurate — that’s another story.

Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell

There are also a lot of crackpot ideas out there.  Some are well-meaning.  Some aren’t.  The crackpotisms can spread as quickly as the valid information.

I’ve seen people discussing fictional television as if it’s real life.  I love fiction and believe with all my heart that it is indeed “real,”  but it’s not factual.  I don’t want to be a jerk, but sometimes I feel like chiming in and explaining the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Much of the news is also fiction.  They will take a fact, indulge in a bit of conjecture, play a little “what-if,” and then begin a discussion as if they are discussing a fact.

There’s obviously a need for information literacy — and there seems to be so little of it.

When I say “seems to be,” that’s exactly what I mean.  I’m not sure.  The internet has changed my brain also and I could be way off here.

In 1999, I wrote a grant proposal called “West Rowan Middle School Eighth Grade Information Literacy Project.”

The idea was to get kids to challenge the validity of the information they encounter.  They would study the quality of information and discuss these topics in seminars.  And we would fund the purchase of computers for the school.  At the time, I was a technology facilitator and money for computers was tight.

The proposal was not funded.

But I can’t help but to think that I was on to something, and that it should have been funded.

This was less than a year after Google’s official birthday:  Sept. 27, 1998.  YouTube and Facebook were years away.

Surely, there have always been crackpots around with off-the-wall theories.  Maybe there are more now.  Maybe less.  Maybe it’s equal — but with more means of communication.

But every now and then I see something on the internet and think, “How could someone so misinformed believe this idea and spread it around?”

Not that I would want it any other way.  People certainly say the same about me.  I want free press (or free digits, I suppose).

But I’m just wondering:  “Is it just me?”