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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ask.com: Just Don't Expect An Answer

I wonder when people will stop treating the information super-highway like the gas station off an exit, one that they pulled into for directions, even though they have a satellite navigation system.....then having the dumb attendant, who has a wall full of maps behind him, saying: "I'm not sure because I just moved here, but I believe it's that way."......followed by the guy in line behind them, who overhears all of this while scrolling through his I-phone chiming in with: "No. I don't think so. I could be wrong, but I believe it is back that way."

That's a pretty accurate metaphor for Ask.com and the rest of those sites, where morons go to share their lack of knowledge with one another. It's like asking someone wearing a watch, holding a cellphone, and standing underneath a giant clock for the time and having him respond, "I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it's after 2." Or dialing 411 for a phone number and the operator tells you: " OK, don't quote me on this, but here's the number." Or punching in '2 + 2 =' on a calculator and having it spit out "4....give or take."

And just to make it even more illegitimate and confusing, each uneducated guess is open to a public vote, which is used to rank them in order of credibility. So whichever answer has the best percentage of idiotic endorsement, or "thumbs up," is labeled the "Best Answer." Not to be confused with the correct answer......or just the answer.

Don't get me wrong. They are useful for certain things like taking opinion surveys, but these "ask a fellow fool" sites always pop up on the first Google page when you type in a question, a simple question for which you would like a simple, definitive answer to, such as the question that prompted this discussion, earlier today when I broke my no-ask.com rule. I needed to convince a misguided friend that cat hair does not CAUSE asthma. I was expecting a simple (and factual) "No." Instead ,I got an "I think so," followed by a story of how a kitten once gave a person the sniffles and an "I don't think so," based on equally significant evidence and, as one "Ask-contributer" barked, exclamation points and all, cat hair not only causes asthma but hay fever as well

Having misinformation is worse than having none; some say it's actually dangerous.

I recently visited a relative who is fond of our President, and I asked her how exactly it was that he paid for school, laughing at the notion that he simply had taken out student loans. She disappeared into her study, printed something off the web, and within minutes she proudly produced some literature, with my answer highlighted in bright yellow. "There you have it," she said. 

Sure as can be, it 'confirmed' that it was student loans which put him through Harvard. The site she used for reference? ChaCha.com. The information marked was written by someone named "Obaman68." In her defense, it was the very first link to appear, and to the casual googler, that is expected to be legit, and it should be.

There's calendar on the wall right next to you; you don't need to ask the guy who accidentally stumbled across your question going from the Kim Kardashian Report over to the latest in pro-wrestling what today's date is. I'm not saying he definitely won't know it, but.........

2 Please add your thoughts to the discussion.:

Kathy Rosa said...

always enjoy reading your blogs, however, I am unable to access A Haven For Fools

Dr. Frank Plume PhD., Sarcastic Order Of Simple Metaphysicists said...

That's because I just put it up now, and it's called Ask.com Just Don't Expect An Answer lol

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Thanks for reading that. Please add some comments, give an opinion, ask questions, disagree. I would love a healthy discussion on this, not to find a winner in this debate, but to find the truth.

- Professor Plume

 
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