The internet has proved a fantastic tool for the circulation of ideas and concepts. It unites groups of people with common interests and is the perfect forum for discussions and networking.
There is a down side. The internet is also a breeding ground for a phenomena that I call the Mental Virus. A mental virus is like a computer virus. It is a thought or belief that has no possible use to the owner other than the creation of fear and mistrust. It spreads from person to person and is almost impossible to get rid of. An older version of the mental virus is the urban myth.
Urban myths were rife before the internet. Whoever told you about them said that they happened to "a friend of a friend". Generally, there is no proof that they happened, and there is an element of possibility. Here are a few:
- The old woman who dried her wet dog in the microwave and the dog exploded.
- There are alligators in the sewer put there by people buying them as pets and flushing them down the toilet.
- The young woman who stopped to help an old woman whose car had broken down. She offers to give the old woman a lift to a garage, and notices manly hairs on the back of her hand and drives off before the old woman can get in the car. It is only when she stops that she finds that the old lady's handbag contains a large knife or a small axe.
Some other mental viruses are as follows:
- All modern inventions like computers and stealth aircraft are inspired by recovered flying saucers being reverse-engineered by the US government.
- Princess Diana's death was ordered by the royal family.
- Humanity is being secretly enslaved and ruled by seven foot blood-drinking lizards.
- When NASA landed on the moon, they found alien bases and have been covering it up since.
- NASA never landed on the moon. It was all a hoax.
- The nazis landed on the moon during the second world war.
More dangerous mental viruses can be perpetuated by religious cults and groups. In these cases, mental viruses are the start of extremist behaviour.
So when learning new concepts on the internet, please consider whether you are taking on a mental virus. Consider whether there is significant scientific backing for the facts and concepts. Also, consider how the ideas influence how you feel about yourself and others. Be rational, sceptical and challenge everything. Ask the right questions, and many of these theories fall down like a house of cards.