Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Education Beyond School

We live in a golden age of information.  Quite honestly, there is no reason to not know the answer to something.  Wikipedia is an amazing resource, complete with citations.  MIT offers most coursework online for free.  The internet is rife with scientific journals, raw data and how-to guides.  Want to learn how to play guitar?  Youtube has thousands of videos with lessons.  Want to know how to build a rifle?  AR15.com has a pretty solid guide for you.  Want to know how your representative voted?  Various government agencies and non-profits will tell you.

Because it is so easy to find accurate information it bugs me when people are misinformed.  It bugs me even more when they are passionate about a topic they know very little about.  I have a wide variety of friends and I'll respect anyone's opinions as long as it's based in facts, data or information.  I have less respect for people who are outraged because it's trendy to be so, but know very little about a topic.

We live in a golden age of information!  It takes very little effort to educate one's self on a topic.  Of course we also live in a golden age of propaganda, and that's fed to us daily.  I think that's the core of the issue, the constant stream of propaganda.  It's easy to believe the propaganda.  But far, far too often the media companies are lying to us or obfuscating the truth.  The Zimmerman trial was one of the topics that was treated to that.

When the verdict was declared in the Zimmerman trial, I was in a position to have many friends who were outraged, many friends who were glad and many friends who were "Duh, the evidence didn't support a conviction".  I took some time to talk to people about why they thought the way they did, and people who were passionate one way or the other were often not quite up on the facts of the case.  Especially the people who were outraged, they were often indignant that I even asked them why they felt the way they did.  The felt it was because Injustice! and if you didn't believe that you are some sort of a monster.  The people who were the most angry also were the least informed as to the facts of the case.

The media and the white house made a mockery of justice in this case.  They lightened pictures of Zimmerman to make him look white.  They used gritty photos to make him look suspicious when they weren't doing that.  In contrast, they used the most innocent possible photos of Martin, ones where he was much younger.  They played up Zimmerman as a nut and a racist and Martin as an innocent when in reality they both had some flaws and made some bad calls.  By no means am I sticking up for Zimmerman, he made significant mistakes that ended with another man dead.  But the case really highlighted how many of the least informed on a topic are also the most vocal.  There's no excuse for that today.

If you want to see how much you know about the Zimmerman case, you can do so here.

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