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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Information: it's not just for professionals anymore.

Back in September, Dan Rather blamed bloggers for bringing his fraud to light. News people should have credibility, bloggers should not -- that was his damage control message.

But now Dan rather has resigned and "blog" is the most popular word inWebster's online dictionary.

The Internet has brought about a monumental change in the way that Americans -- and the rest of the world -- think. No longer are we told what to think and to believe, but we can examine the evidence for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. Well, that's not entirely true; media spokespeople still tell us what to believe, but we have resources now at our disposal to check facts and hear both sides.

Americans and other free and democratic-thinking people have an unprecedented opportunity. We have the opportunity to know facts and abate ignorance. I wonder, though, how many people really take advantage of that opportunity. How many people still prefer ignorance, when the facts don't support their personal biases? How many people don't bother to check the facts before making their decisions, both about voting and about life?

Sadly, even with so much information literally at our fingertips, a huge portion of our society still values ignorance. From the person who thinks that not knowing where babies come from will ensure that his child will be a virgin at marriage to the abortion lobby that claims to represent "choice" while fighting any law that requires patients to have complete information before making an informed choice, too many people are willing to use falsehood to promote their idea of truth. That's what it is, really, when we give wrong impressions by restricting access to facts.

What is perhaps even sadder is how many people are still willing to accept it. Millions of abortions occur each year among people who, for the most part, have not bothered to seek out the information themselves about their offspring's level of development, or how abortions are performed. Hundreds of millions of parents send their children to school without bothering to learn what the schools are presenting as fact. City people make voting decisions about water rights without bothering to find out how farmers in the country use this water to produce the food they eat.

We have tremendous information available to us, but this does not make us informed people. We only become informed when we act upon our responsibility to inform ourselves before making vital decisions. And we can only take credit for the availability of information and knowledge to the extent that we support rights such as full disclosure before abortion.

By blog or by legal document, having information available means we share responsibility to seek and use knowledge.