Google and the Narrowing of Knowledge

I am reading The Wilderness Warrior, Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley, a real page turner if you like to spend time in the American wilderness. You almost wish Teddy was president today. He’d take care of Global Warming. Probably shoot a couple people driving Hummers, and demolish a coal burning power plant, after declaring them all illegal by Presidential Degree. Teddy was a bear when it came to protecting Mother Nature for us. He also was not impressed by the then, 1907, brand new gasoline powered automobiles in Washington (he walked fast and rode a horse), and he found Henry Ford and his Model T “boring.” Perhaps in his inner child he knew that one day automobiles would destroy life on the planet. I have a similar feeling about Google (which I use interchangeably with The Net). Who cares about words anyway?

Then I reached P. 671 and started reading about El Morro, which Teddy declared a National Monument in 1906. El Morro! I love El Morro. You can see this massive hump of sand stone from sixty miles away, and you cannot reach the Zuni reservation from the east without passing right beneath it. The conquistador Juan de Onate carved his name in it in 1605. Nothing like finding a lost love in a book you are reading or a film you are watching. Only The Wilderness Warrior says that El Morro is in Trinidad, New Mexico.

But there is no Trinidad, New Mexico! Trinidad is in Colorado. Trinidad is the location of Drop City where the hippies lived in geodesic domes and consumed quantities of Acid. El Morro, the El Morro, is near Ramah, a Navajo town hundreds of miles away deep in New Mexico.

How could such a glaring error be published in such an important book? Easy.
Today even in major publishing houses people no longer think, as in using the brain God gave them, which is crammed full of the information they worked so hard to gather themselves, by, among other things, reading books! Or worse, actually having an experience in the real world like walking in the woods or desert. They “Google it”.
My guess is that an intern proofread the book, and using the internet typed in “El Morro”, found that there is a Mt. Moro in Southern Colorado, and then proceeded to undo all the correct information in the paragraph and replace it with the miss-information he or she had found on the web.

That’s what’s wrong with google and the internet. It has narrowed our portal of knowledge from an infinitesimal number of individuals walking into libraries all over the world, and going through the “work” of reading and assimilating information with their brains, into the simplistic task of point and click and scan. Who needs to think? You cut and paste, its much less emotional. If Darwin was right, this should result in a world wide web of people that look human, but actually do not know how to think.

One Response to “Google and the Narrowing of Knowledge”
  1. Bob Flame says:

    Hi….stumbled across your post as I searched for Trinidad, NM after reading “The Wilderness Warrior” as well. What a wonderful book, but yes, it is full of editorial errors, that while not damaging the breadth and depth of the book or its main character, raise lots of questions about the quality of the editing. There is no Trinidad, NM. El Morro (I actually worked there for 2 years) is near Ramah, NM, or Zuni, or Grants, or even Gallup. Another one that got me was the discussion of “circumscribed fire”, rather than the proper term, prescribed fire. There’s another place where even “Roosevelt” is spelled incorrectly. Still a great book, but likely a sign that today’s troubled publishing industry is cutting so far back that these kinds of errors will be more common than less so.

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