Why You Should Not Blindly Believe The Internet

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Why You Should Not Blindly Believe The Internet

Cristina Ray '21, Business Manager

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   The internet is a network packed with billions of sources of information. It has taken away the need to physically search for facts or confirmation at libraries or bookstores. The most convenient option isn’t always the most trustworthy, though. 

       Free websites such as Wikipedia are “free encyclopedias” that offer knowledge at no cost. You may think this is favorable for those who don’t wish to pay for access to education or data, and you’d be correct, but the issue lies in the source. Not everyone has a degree in the subject they are covering. It’s more than possible you could be getting your information from a bored teenager somewhere across the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s incorrect, but the basic idea that just anybody could be informing the world of what they perceive is true means it is not an expert opinion or information backed by evidence. 

       It is crucial to avoid being gullible and naïve while on the internet. A popular example of why this is important would be Google’s “health conditions related to this search” after entering your symptoms in the search bar. It is a form of self-diagnosis which is terribly inaccurate at times and could be dangerous. In fall of 2019, a poll of 2,000 people in the U.S. found that over 43 percent misdiagnosed themselves with a serious disease and the results were wrong over 60 percent of the time. About 75 percent of respondents said this led them to be more worried than before they’d actually searched it up, which is something I can personally relate to.  

       With all of this in mind, the internet is still incredibly useful a lot of the time. As long as one is careful, there should be no issue finding what you need from a reliable origin. 

       This has been going on for a while. It is not a recent issue nor is it strictly an American one. Back in 2012, a study found that one in four British women had also misdiagnosed themselves on the internet.  This is a health concern due to the fact it could delay treatment for the real ailment. “Dr. Google” is what this self-diagnosis system is referred to as and it is not a trained professional. 

        Usually people choose to self-diagnose because of symptoms that stem from embarrassment such as female issues. This makes it a challenge for them to be confident enough to consult a real doctor since a Google search is at the tip of their fingertips. If we were to acknowledge that Dr. Google does more harm than good, and that we all face bodily problems that we should not be ashamed of, the future could be healthier and quicker to cure. 

        Tryon Edwards once wisely said, “Credulity is belief in slight evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence.”