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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
   
Your editorial of August 28, 2014, talked about questioning things that “just don’t sound right.”
    Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of people have enough education in science or history or geography or literature  or math to know whether or not something “sounds right.” After all, would most know how to actually question statistics rather than say “all statistics are skewed to support the writer’s argument?” 
What is ironic about picking up your beliefs online is that the internet has a fantastic “fact checking” system.  No longer do we have to sit around and argue about certain things, we can google it. 
    But that’s the problem isn’t it. You have to know how to do a search and how to sift through websites. Contrary to what people want to believe, Wikipedia is full of legitimate and researched information. Entries are tagged with warnings if there are problems with the article. There are strong editorial reviews in place.  Good entries are footnoted.
    Then you might want to search until you find something from a scholarly site. Always read more than one source.  And certainly stay away from “ASK” because this is not a search engine; it redirects to advertising sites. Use MSN or Yahoo as well as Google. 
    I recently had a conversation with a person who appeared to be citing rhetoric related to “global warming.”  To me it just “didn’t sound right.” It seemed to have some rather important errors in history and geography.  So I “googled” it on my phone.  He was misinformed. Now we were both informed. We both learned something.  
    There are some really crazy things on Facebook. One post claimed that pickled okra cures diabetes. I think I know how someone might have gotten to that misconception but only because they don’t understand diabetes. Nor do they understand nutrition or human physiology.
    So this brings us back to the original question. How can someone know it “doesn’t sound right” if they don’t have the knowledge base to do this?  There are plenty of valid, impartial, educational websites. Distinguishing these sites from sites that are hyping nonsense can be difficult. One has to work at it.  One also has to concentrate to read a paper. Why not watch a video of cute puppies?

Robin Tondra

Dear Editor:
   
A volunteer is one who willingly donates their time with the expectation of nothing in return.  As a volunteer for the Pickens County Schools, that is exactly what I do. I volunteer my time simply because I enjoy watching “my” kids at sporting events... 

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