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An idea for a website

  1. Jul 30, 2014 #1
    I spend a lot of time on the internet. During that time I've noticed that some of my fellow internet dwellers seem to like to spend their time trying to spread a number of... shell we say ill advised ideas. I would be nice if the various pieces of misinformation that are spread on the internet could all be countered by people who are knowledgeable in the subjects being discussed, but unfortunately there are far fewer experts willing to spend there time correcting people then there are purveyors of ignorance and misinformation. This, at least to me, seems to be a problem. I've spent some time thinking about it, and I think I may have come up with something that could work. It seems like the same stuff is repeated over and over again so instead many experts addressing the same piece of misinformation over and over it seems like it would be a lot better if one or a few experts addressed it one time and then people just copied that reply over and over again. What I'm proposing is a website where experts can respond to misinformation with the understanding that other people will copy and past those responses to various places on the internet where the misinformation shows up (giving all due credit to the author of course). I'm not an expert on anything so maybe it's unfair of me to even propose something like this. There are a lot of experts on this site. What do you think? Bad idea? Good idea? Somewhere in between?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2014 #2
    The problem is, people could simply link to the response rather than copy, which is preferable anyway :)
     
  4. Jul 30, 2014 #3
    Evanish that is brain storming idea.....superb!!!
     
  5. Jul 30, 2014 #4

    jedishrfu

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    You have found a critical need, the problem will be in how to implement it and advertize it. There needs to be some incentive to get people to reference, use and maintain the site.

    Wikipedia went through something like this where they tried a moderated version with subject matter experts controlling updates to topics. It failed and in its place wikipedia came into being using anyone but with a discussion component that helped it refine and maintain its pages. Its not perfect but it appears to have wildly succeeded for the most part.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

    One problem with subject matter experts is that they are professionals whose job is to be an expert in some topic. Its a skill they spent many years developing and its not a skill they will just give back to the community or to spend time arguing with laypeople over whats right or not in articles they have to maintain.

    When I think of these kinds of problems, I am reminded of the Stone Soup story of how to get people to contribute to a common cause in a meaningful way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_soup
     
  6. Jul 30, 2014 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    There have been similar attempts like rationalwiki which accumulates pages dedicated to debunking but the sheer amount of nonsense out there makes it incredibly hard. There's also the issue that as soon as one argument is debunked ten more pop up in its place. Proponents of intelligent design are constantly trying to spin new arguments based on a misreading of new information for example.
     
  7. Jul 30, 2014 #6

    Borek

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    Borek's corollary: for every correct equation (like 2=2) there exist an infinite number of incorrect equations (2=n, where n is a natural number not equal to 2).

    In other words: idiots will be always capable of drowning you in the nonsense.
     
  8. Jul 30, 2014 #7

    phinds

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    Nice idea, but I agree w/ Borek ... it's a waste of time in the long run. Idiots are not going to be swayed by facts. Look at all the nonsensical theories (e.g. "the moon landing was a hoax") that still get widespread currency despite having been debunked thoroughly and repeatedly. One more debunking just isn't going to matter.
     
  9. Jul 30, 2014 #8
    I think the important thing to bear in mind is that people who aren't idiots can be misinformed.
     
  10. Jul 30, 2014 #9

    Monique

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    Problem is: experts do not know everything.

    And for the advice: if everyone says you shouldn't do something, it means there is an opportunity to do it (because no one has done it).

    You'd have to find a way to make it efficient, I'm sure one day there will be such a resource.
     
  11. Jul 30, 2014 #10

    phinds

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    A good point. I really have more in mind more the "willfully ignorant" --- those who prefer to believe in ridiculous things despite any amount of evidence to the contrary.
     
  12. Jul 30, 2014 #11
    Are you intending this site to be more so about misinformation (Moon hoax, bad science, etc.) or about people spreading information with malicious intent?

    If the latter, just have a bunch of scientists monitor 4chan.
     
  13. Jul 30, 2014 #12

    jedishrfu

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    I agree with Monique, you won't know until you try. Now that you've thought of it you must try. Wikipedia's experience can help shape your solution and you have some questions to consider:

    - how to sift out the noise from the facts?
    - how to get the experts to talk?
    - how to get a consensus of experts?

    Another site to look at is www.snopes.com which handles internet scam and hoaxes with factual information.
     
  14. Jul 30, 2014 #13
    Eliminating bad ideas completely seems unrealistic. Really the goal is to stop or at least slow down there spread, and to do so in the least labor intensive way possible.

    I'm not really picturing a wiki, or at least not a normal wiki where anyone can contribute. I'm picturing something where only people with the right credential can contribute. This would save the time and effort of with having to deal with entries that add to the problem instead of the solution. People should be able to collaborate together to make and entry, but unlike a wiki I think collaboration should be optional and only with he agreement of all the people involved. I think that people with he right credentials should be able to give "Cred" to an entry causing that entry to be featured more prominently. Also, I think that some articles should be more general giving basic information about science and critical thinking.
     
  15. Jul 30, 2014 #14

    Evo

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  16. Jul 30, 2014 #15

    jedishrfu

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    maybe you need a website of websites rather like yahoo.com used to be when it was curated by hand.

    There was some discussion awhile back of using website references as a means to determine a website value. as others reference your site, then your value goes up as being more useful or truthful...

    I think it was part of the semantic web and part of google's strategy to rank websites by how many others referenced their content.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_Web
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  17. Jul 30, 2014 #16

    WWGD

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    OP: Maybe a related issue you can deal with is filtering different types of biases, e.g., confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, etc. It would be nice to have some training to recognize them and overcome them (of course, for _others_ to recognize their biases, since one is never biased ;)). There was a show on Discovery, I think, on perceptual flaws, how our perception (mostly visual in this show) is not 100% reliable. Maybe you can make people more aware of these issues.

    WWGD :What Would Gauss Do?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  18. Jul 30, 2014 #17

    Monique

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  19. Jul 30, 2014 #18
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