Letters to editor

In the September 28th print edition of the Herald Ms. Debbi Reeves of Tillamook asked a reasonable and pertinent question: why no attention was paid by the White House to certain opinions she found on the internet. She asked "Can anyone tell me why?" I would like to supply an answer to her question.

The reason is, most information posted to the internet is unreliable or false. There are various reasons people post things to the internet - financial gain, hope for "30 minutes of fame" (or is it 2 minutes, nowadays), hope for political advantage, etc. and, occasionally, an attempt to educate people in an honest way. The thing is, you can't be sure what someone's motives are, and if you are seeking information you have to test whatever you find on the internet against reality. That means you must be skeptical and seek out confirmation or lack thereof on your own. Which can take a lot of work. Your default position should be: I trust nothing I find on the internet unless I can test that I formation against reliable sources.

Let me give an example from when I used to teach electrical engineering. I would give a little research project to my students and then advise them on how to go looking for information. Wikipedia? Easy to use but articles are not necessarily reviewed. Be really careful about it. Articles in the Transactions of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) or Physical Review Letters (from the American Institute of Physics)? Very good. Articles are reviewed by several scientists independent of the author(s), and are carefully edited. You can trust these.

I hope you get my drift.

-Jon Orloff, Rockaway Beach


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