Sixth Commandment
Sixth Commandment

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So Easily Deceived


Commentary; #1016c; 11 minutes
Given 23-Oct-10

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John Ritenbaugh, asking how we verify information on the Internet, points out that 'reliable' sources such as factcheck.org and Snopes are not entirely reliable. Word- of- mouth has the lowest level of reliability. The next least reliable source is an 'eye witness' account. All sources of information are faulty. When information is carelessly blitzed on the worldwide web, no quality control can be applied. A recent news release on the Internet blamed the BP Oil Disaster for the ocean currents and the weather patterns. Recently, a Russian meteorologist warned that the coldest winter on record is on its way, adversely affecting the food supply. Consequently, speculators are preparing to drive the food prices into the stratosphere, placing the danger of starvation in the foreground. We desperately need to keep ourselves from the deception and deleterious effects of bad information.

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The experience led to another thought, because when attempting to check things out we found on the Internet, where do we go to for verification? Chances are very great that we go to another place on the Internet for verification. Now, that's interesting. Why? Because the place that one might look, let's say, would be Snopes or FactCheck.com, or similar operations like that. But brethren, they have been found wanting on a number of occasions because, where are they getting their sources? Where do they check? On the Internet, of course.

This exercise triggered a memory of a lecture that I heard at Ambassador in 1968 or 1969 given on this general subject, and I believe that the lecture was given by Rod Meredith. In it, he stated that he, in turn, had read an article that made these general points that I'm going to give to you.

The least reliable of all sources of information is what they, in the article, termed "word of mouth." This is information that is anecdotal and is passed on, usually in just general conversation. "Oh, did you hear what I heard?"—and we launch into it. It's very much like the party game, where you get 50 people in a circle, and you give somebody a sentence at the beginning, and they pass it all the way around by memory. When you get to the other end, it's nothing at all like the way it started out. That's word-of-mouth information. It has a very low level of facts.

The next least reliable is an eyewitness account. They see an accident, and they are grilled by the police. "What did you see then?" They're grilled by the prosecutor. "What did you see?" And then they are grilled by the defense attorney. "What did you see?" Well, these people report that they are quite unreliable. The people are sincere, but when something happens—a shooting or whatever—they aren't focused on what's going on in the shooting. They are probably diving for the curb or something. Their mind just doesn't pick everything up, and so that's why they have to go through as many witnesses as they can possibly find and compare. So, they are a little bit more accurate, but they are far from perfect.

The next most accurate source is newspapers. They do a reasonably good job, but boy, they are wrong a lot of times, too. Better still, but nonetheless fairly often wrong, are news magazines, like Newsweek, Time, U. S. News and World Report.

The most accurate, but still not perfect, are books.

There is a common denominator that runs through all of these upon which accuracy depends, and that common denominator is time. The more time that somebody has to check something out, the more likely they are going to get it right in what they tell or write. But now we have a question here. All of those sources of information are things that are at hand. They are human, or they are written or whatever. What does one do in this ultra fast-paced, electronically-driven world, in which immediacy is demanded as people dash too and fro, and events seem to happen in the blink of an eye, as information s now gathered and dispersed on a worldwide basis? This is quite a challenge.

Here is a news item that seems to have some legs. Is it true? You might recall that several weeks ago, during one of these commentaries ["Has Life on Earth Just Changed?"], I mentioned that a report had come through the news that satellites used for weather surveillance had detected that the volume of warm water in the Gulf Stream was dramatically lower than usual. They can check these things because they keep very accurate records. The news brief speculated that this was caused by the BP oil disaster. That news brief published pictures that they claim supported this analysis—that it was caused by the BP disaster—because the timing of the decreased warm water flow and the oil disaster were essentially the same. The oil disaster began on April the 19th or 20th.

This report was followed a couple of months later by Russia experiencing one of the hottest summers ever recorded, and this in turn caused drastic reductions in the volume of foodstuffs, especially grains that Russia normally produces and exports. And so, Russia's national income depends largely on grain and oil and gas that they export.

A week and a half ago, another report hit the Internet through a British newspaper that a highly respected Russian meteorologist has warned the Russian government that it better get prepared because Russia is on track to have the coldest winter in 1000 years. The article said that the Russian government gave it enough weight that it is already taking steps, especially in and around Moscow, by increasing insulation and repairing heating systems in government-run housing projects, and providing shelters for Moscow's many homeless people. They're going to force them into these homes. The meteorologist raised the alarm on the basis of the same decreased volume of warm water in the Gulf Stream. He said the warm air rising from the waters would normally protect Russia because that warm air serves as a buffer to the cold air flowing south from the Arctic into Russia. At current rates, there is insufficient volume of warm air to be a buffer. Thus, Russia is largely unprotected from that very cold arctic

Why is this a concern for Russia? Because it's going to seriously affect Russian food production at the same time American food production is also in serious decline because of poor rainfall patterns. We're getting plenty of rain; it is just not raining in the right place, and desertification is underway in the United States of America. Thus, two of the largest food producers in the world are potentially being seriously disrupted by the weather at the same time. This is going to do something that is very serious. It's going to be serious enough here and serious enough in Russia, but what it's going to do is to drive the price of grain practically out of the roof in terms of exporting it to another country. The poorest nations are going to be unable to by it, and thus they are forecasting that starvation is going to really become rampant beginning in 2011.

What you need to think of, I think, to tie this to our life is the Third Seal in Revelation 6. God prophesies of this very thing through the black horse. Here's the question: Are these weather reports true? I do not have the answer. Maybe you do

JWR/aws/dcg




 

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