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When I needed a locksmith, I used a Google Maps search centered on my address, wrote down the first few hits, and headed out. The first place didn’t exist at its listed address. It didn’t actually have a fixed address. The smith operated from his truck. Apparently he needed to enter some kind of address to register his business for search engines, so he picked a fictitious street number at a major intersection near the center of town. The second entry was outdated and hadn’t been a locksmith for years. At that point I called a housemate and got personal directions to a locksmith she already knew existed.

I’ve already written about the time I searched for clarification on the issue of whether banks essentially create money out of nothing when they lend out more than they have in the vault. I hit half a dozen consistent “yes” answers before a knowledgeable friend pointed out that the question is more complex than it sounds and does not have a simple yes/no answer because “money” has more than one definition.

There are so many websites now catering to fringe religions, conspiracy theories, crackpot movements… The internet has reached at a point where, no matter what preconceived notions you have on some complex topic, you are likely to find sites that support that point of view with well-crafted arguments that lie beyond your capacity to fault.

The web still has potential as a source of self-edification, but the most reliable way to learn something is still “ask an expert,” and that includes figuring out where to go so you can learn on your own without bothering experts.


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