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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Internet "Conspiracies"

According to today's New York Post:

More than one-third of Americans suspect federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new poll.
This echoes some earlier polls, including one from the summer of 2004 (cited here) that states that half of New Yorkers believe that the government had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, citing the same study as the Post, reports that
people who regularly use the Internet but who do not regularly use so-called "mainstream" media are significantly more likely to believe in 9/11 conspiracies. People who regularly read daily newspapers or listen to radio newscasts were especially unlikely to believe in the conspiracies.
Is this because people who get their information online are more gullible than their more traditional counterparts? It's possible, but I don't think that's what's going on.

Considering that corporate mergers are happening in every industry unchecked, further concentrating the power to control the flow of information into ever-fewer hands, is it any wonder that the mainstream media is less and less able to provide fair and balanced news? With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it is legal for a single company to own all of the news outlets in a town, as long as it only represents up to 45% of the total number of total media outlets (e.g., entertainment) available. So it's okay if one man were to own all of the newspapers, news magazines and news television stations in an area, because it measures your 45% holdings against all other media, not just news media. As a result, according to Wikipedia, 90% of the media holdings in the United States are controlled by six companies: Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Bertlesmann and General Electric. This includes news, music, television, you name it. Each of these companies is headed by a small number of people with similarly-aligned interests. Is it any wonder that the American people have failed to rise up against the Bush-Cheney cabal? Most people simply don't know what's going on, because it's not in the interest of these plutocrats to let them know.

The Internet is the one channel of information that is not centrally controlled. It's the closest thing we have to a truly democratic society, where everyone's opinion can be heard. Sure it's littered with the ravings of madmen living in their parents' basements; sure it can be used as a tool of disinformation, too. But when you can't trust the papers, when you can't trust the TV, then how is the truth to be made known? This is why the Internet so important. This is why Net Neutrality is so important. As always, it's essential that everyone evaluate each piece of information carefully, considering the source, and deciding for himself whether or not to believe it. But the news has been reduced to sound bites and sensationalism. Your choices are ignorance or the Internet.

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Comments on Internet "Conspiracies"
  Comment from Anonymous N. Mallory at Thursday, August 03, 2006 3:45:00 PM
And here I thought that the 9-11 conspiracies were becoming more believable simply because of the fact that the Bush Administration and the government in general is becoming less believable.
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Monday, August 07, 2006 11:15:00 AM
I really don't believe in conspiracies... Things are better explained in political terms...

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.