Internet Opinion Culture must go

Too often on internet forums, I’ve seen opinion substituted for facts. This is wrong. Part of the reason people accept it is they are young and/or naive. Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information. So if an “opinion” is stated here about a subject that matters to you, check it out for yourself. Research it on the Library at this site or go to your Catechism.

A small group of paid disinformation agents called astroturf are all over the net pretending to be average people. They are not. They are paid to promote people and ideas. Some are also paid to make factual statements seem untrue or doubtful. This has got to stop. It is actually affecting people’s critical thinking skills when they do not make sure that someone’s opinion is actually true.

Make sure you know the truth about what you believe. Stand firm, and show people Bible verses or extracts from the Catechism. These are subtle attacks on the faith and should be challenged. Opinion is not more important than truth.


There’s a lot o f information on the Internet, but most people, even–or perhaps especially–most tech knowledgeable young people, don’t know how to obtain it, or how to evaluate it, or how to do real research. That has consequences for the culture. Mark Bauerline wrote a book about it:

Oh, shucks! How can he expect Truth to combat the Lie when the Lie is free and you have to pay for Truth?

cough Not that I wouldn’t pay anything (Most anything, anyway) for Truth, but I sure wouldn’t charge folks for it. Which is why I’ve always eyed some evangelicals with suspicion.

Anyhow, Truth is more important than opinion (that’s my opinion on the matter, anyway) but we shouldn’t, imho, discount peoples opinions as worthless. Their point of views are, after all, somewhat defining of them as people. I think…

But I’ve often said that Wikipedia is an attempt at the Democracy at Truth, and, attempting to quote…the fellow that wrote Walden. The Trancendentalist chap. Attempting to quote him as best I can, “What is right should not be left to the whims of the people”.

However, look at California, where the people, quite remarkably, did right, collectively, whereas the minority did evil. And think how much evil is done by the few judges deciding what is best for the people, and how much good could be done were it decided by them. The trick to democracy is education and reason. However, like it said in that book, the new generation shows not the slightest inclination to learn or better their minds or souls, but rather, to simply be entertained.

(What is the ‘current’ generation? The one being born right now? Or the one in power right now? As the one in power right now was born several decades ago.)

For those who leave behind a true search for wisdom and a sound basis for living life, then opinions can move them in directions portrayed as fun or amusing, but which are usually bad for them.

As one comedian said, “I want to be amused.” Too often, the concern of some is simply avoiding boredom. For those who have opportunities and the ability – use it. Or you might wake up 5 or 10 years from now and look back at what could have been if you tried and looked and planned.

If you don’t know what you believe then opinion can take you anywhere or even knock you down.


Maybe then, the problem isn’t that people discuss their opinions, but rather, that their opinions are based on how they feel, rather than their own personal world view? Opinions would be very useful if they were all based in rational thought, would they not?

The internet is a wonderous thing, connecting people from every corner of the earth, and having people place their opinions on it isn’t a bad thing at all. But, celebrating entertainment for entertainments sake, art for art’s sake, or indulging in anything just for the heck of it…Well, in my opinion, *that’s *the problem.

Opinons are fine, but let’s have them be more than the pithy assesment of the present, let’s have them be windows into a person’s world view! And let’s view opinions then as such, with all the seriousness their deserve.

(C’mon, Chesterton!)

*"It is foolish, generally speaking, for a philosopher to set fire to
another philosopher in Smithfield Market because they do not agree in their theory of the universe. That was done very frequently in the last decadence of the Middle Ages, and it failed altogether in its object. But there is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century, in the decadence of the great revolutionary period. General theories are everywhere contemned; the doctrine of the Rights of Man is dismissed with the doctrine of the Fall of Man. Atheism itself is too theological for us to-day. Revolution itself is too much of a system; liberty itself is too much of a restraint. We will have no generalizations. Mr. Bernard Shaw has put the view in a perfect epigram: “The golden rule is that there is no golden rule.” We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man’s opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion
on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He
may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters–except everything.

Examples are scarcely needed of this total levity on the subject of
cosmic philosophy. Examples are scarcely needed to show that, whatever else we think of as affecting practical affairs, we do not think it matters whether a man is a pessimist or an optimist, a Cartesian or a Hegelian, a materialist or a spiritualist. Let me, however, take a random instance. At any innocent tea-table we may easily hear a man say, “Life is not worth living.” We regard it as we regard the statement that it is a fine day; nobody thinks that it can possibly have any serious effect on the man or on the world. And yet if that utterance were really believed, the world would stand on its head. Murderers would be given medals for saving men from life; firemen would be denounced for keeping men from death; poisons would be used as medicines; doctors would be called in when people were well; the Royal Humane Society would be rooted out like a horde of assassins. Yet we never speculate as to whether the conversational pessimist will
strengthen or disorganize society; for we are convinced that theories do not matter."*

Thank you, very much, for that. There is power in the words we speak, and those we write on the internet. What’s the point of posting: “Dude, I’d look it up but I’m just too lazy to do it.”?

I just want to say again, an opinion is a point of view that is often not based on a lot of facts. I have seen people try to ruin another person’s reputation on the internet, and believing that because some have such a bad opinion of him, it must be true. In fact, this same person has met some of his detractors and in every case, upon seeing him in person, people told him they were wrong. Wrong to believe the nasty and cruel things they read about him online.

On religious matters, here, be consistent in pointing out the truth. Where your life and soul are concerned, truth matters more.



If the internet disappeared today and never came back, would our culture be better or worse for that disappearance?

Include in this email, online messaging, online ordering, online porn, etc…it will all disappear.

Everything man does contains the potential for good or evil. In each one of us is the choice: do good or do evil. I’m just trying to point out that what we say should be good and what we do should be good. And opinions should not be taken at face value but considered and understood - some are right and some are wrong. We need to know the difference.


What can we expect, when our public schools no longer teach students how to do research, and how to think logically?

Come to think of it, I went to some pretty good private schools, and was never taught anything about discerning facts from opinion - except for one excellent course (in the one public high school I attended!) called “logic and propaganda.” It was an elective. I think it should be mandatory!

I’m a stickler for footnotes and citations. When someone says, “The Keebler Elves say God is a baker,” I want to know where I can look that up.

But the press is not reliable, either. Reporters also aren’t doing their research. When the public has to call up and say, “A Cessna 172 is not a twin-engine aircraft” you know the reporter didn’t have an expert check their facts.

In that sense, I think the Internet is a Godsend. You can go to Cessna’s website and find out what models they make. (Not to mention being able to search the CCC without having to own a concordance, being able to read the LDS scriptures, and many other things.)

But to do it “right,” you have to be able to figure out a reliable source from an unreliable one.

(crotchety old lady voice) What do they teach these kids in school? (end c-o-l voice)



Well, I just lived through the worst ice storm I have ever experienced in my life, here in New England. As a result,
no TV or internet access for 5 days. We also had no telephone for two days. Our only communication was with the one neighbor(we live out at a lake in the country), and one AM radio station, which gave us updated information, which we listened to on a small battery operated radio. The other stations just played junky music that sounded worse on the little radio and wasn’t worth the battery life.

My days suddenly became simple and basic. We heated the house with a wood stove, which we could also cook on, but also used a propane camp stove and used candles and two battery operated lamps. We spent most of the day light hours, cutting trees and preparing ourselves for the evening meal and living with the just basic comforts. Having a job that consists of sitting behind a computer screen 8 hrs a day, the physical labor in cutting wood and clean up, was tough at first and my muscles ached from the hard labor, but by the third day, I felt great. We prayed, talked and played cards, until we hit the sack early, and got up early.

In all, it was actually an enjoyable experience living the simple life. However, when the power came back on Tuesday night, it didn’t take long to begin enjoying the internet and TV once again, and I don’t know if I’d want to live a life-style without these technologies.

I guess the lesson I learned most was that the internet is a wonderful means of communication and obtaining information and so is television. Just don’t get so attached to these things, that you forget the really important things.

I always wanted to try living like Henry David Thoreau did for a time, and I got my chance and I’d like to try it again someday,… only, on my terms, not mother nature’s.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit