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Torch Sessions

Google-Search Experts
by Joseph Branco

May 18, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - The speed and ease of Internet capabilities makes it possible to do quick research on practically any conceivable topic from the history of World War II to Britney Spear's favorite make-out position. This sophisticated tool is an appropriate companion for fact-finding missions and research projects of all kinds. However, like wandering through a library void of clearly defined indicators between fact, fiction, non-fiction, reference, or fantasy, the Internet resource and the information it provides must be scrutinized with an impartial and unbiased mind in search of the truth.

Today, otherwise uneducated and unprepared critics and debaters can use the Internet source to support absolutely any view they contend. This support for flawed beliefs is, sadly, the fuel for most heated debate in America. Today's Google-Search Experts blast misleading arguments on the debate and public forum scene loaded with statistics and facts that are grossly inaccurate and reflect obvious biases. These "facts", coincidentally, validate the views of the author, regardless of the level of absurdity comprising the opinion. With my Google-Search, I can find proof that the Holocaust never happened - or that Elvis is not dead - or that Bush is actually a documented alien from another planet.

I've had the unfortunate circumstances to debate with several of these Google-Search Experts in public forums. When discussing topics such as economic reform and minimum wage, my debate challengers' mount up mind-numbing statistics and facts gathered from Google-Searches that comfortably fit their views. Most of the stats that support their economic basis are found from the leftist liberal can't think tank - The Economic Policy Institute. No doubt, my challengers saw the name and thought - "Wow the name sounds official - it must be true!" The truth is Forbes magazine and several other economic and business journals and studies have labeled the EPI as a leftist economic institute funded by the AFL-CIO as a backdoor method of changing economic theory to support leftist and Marxist campaigns. And yes, those were my own words.

In recent public debates, I have grown exhausted arguing legitimate economic and business issues with challengers who throw out laundry lists of emotional hot words tangent to the discussion in weak attempts to argue concepts beyond their intellectual grasp. These smoke screen statements are then supported with biased statistics and quotes from institutions operating beyond the far edges of reason and fact. I have been studying economics, business, strategic policy, and operational management and research for several years as I begin my MBA program in a few weeks. It is difficult for me to control my gag reflex in a debate, having spent every night of my life for the past 5 years studying business and economics till 2am only to argue individuals backed with little more than a "tunnel vision" Google Search and a liberal talking points list of words like: hunger, poor, children, education, living wage, greedy business, working man, worker's rights, etc.

Do you think after reading an article or review through a Google Search on a new method of breast cancer treatment, that I am qualified to debate a surgeon on the topic? How about if I use a bar graph to show the benefits of my side and I say emotional keywords like "But what about the children?" or "You are taking away patient's civil rights!" or "59% of those surveyed think poor people will suffer if this new method is not adopted." Do I now win the debate? No. The basis for my argument comes from fallacy and my emotional attack is totally inappropriate and not relevant to the discussion at hand. This is the type of argument I find myself in all the time.

Truth be told, I have no problem with Google-Searches to aid in research for a view. Information, even false information, is a good thing because it gets people talking and thinking. However, my biggest pet peeve is this general lack of original thought. I can't remember the last time I debated someone who had his or her own view and fairly supported it without the crutch of an inaccurate Internet search or the leftfield "zinger" from some random PhD. If the cruxes of your arguments are quotes from those greater than yourself, do us all a favor and spare us the tedious regurgitation.

I will be the first to admit, that I have had thoughts on how we should alter our national economic system, only to realize that my concept did not consider XYZ. But I also have revolutionary economic theories, validated by my research and knowledge, which could improve our national economic processes. The difference is in the capacity to seek truth versus the quest to block out all information that does not support your theory.

I've found that many debaters are more interested in looking smart than actually being smart. Perhaps you can do a Google search on how to become smart. If the answer you receive were to jump off a 10-story bridge - would you do it?

Joseph Branco is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Joseph Branco at branco(AT)

Jospeh Branco ©2005
All Rights Reserved

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