The Age of Unsubstantiated Information Parading as Truth


Yesterday I was reading up on the Internet on the Spanish face transplant.

According to Daniel Wools, Associated Press writer (Yahoo News Sat. Apr. 24) the patient was an unnamed Spanish farmer between the ages of 20 and 40. The transplant was done at Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, by a team of surgeons led by Dr. Joan Pere Barret. Barret claimed he had performed the world’s first full face transplant in a procedure that took 24 hours. That’s quite a feat, considering that only 10 other partial face transplants have been performed throughout the world.

However, another source said the transplant couldn’t be considered full face, because the new part the patient received was only from the eye sockets down. So then it’s just a run-of-the-mill achievement.

Another source claimed that the operation took place in the La Fe hospital in Valencia, and was performed on a 43 year old man from the Canary Islands by a Dr. Cavados and his colleague Dr. Luis Landin, 2 other surgeon, some anaesthetists, other staff and twelve nurses. The operation apparently took 15 hours.

So where does the truth lie? In the end I went with AP, and I got the link from the New York Times.

People love lauding this era as the Age of Information where you can find anything on the Internet. It’s true, for any fairly popular topic Google alone will have millions of search results. But is it information? The word implies truth. The Internet has given us all a voice, which is a good thing, but the package doesn’t come with a requirement to tell the truth and to think for ourselves when we read something.

It’s the Age of “Information” that’s for sure, but the more distortions that parade as truth get disseminated globally at the speed of light, the more power and authority they have as they’re read by people who don’t question anything, and passed on to the next gullible reader. And the less value truth has. That’s a scary thought.

So what’s the harm? Who cares? Well the harm is when some poor unsuspecting person who needs a full face transplant goes the man he thinks is the world expert. Who isn’t. Oops, he read the wrong article.

It is a great age in many ways, because so much real information is available. But we can only find it if we value and develop our independence of mind and our capacity to question everything and to not blindly accept the written word as gospel.

We still have to think for ourselves. Nothing’s going to rescue us from that.

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