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Pope Benedict XVI Warns of Internet Conformity, Urges Critical Thought

Pope Benedict XVI (who loves the Internet, but is wishy-washy when it comes to abuse allegations) says that we need to be more critical of the information we get from the Web. The Pontiff recently said at the Italian Bishops' Conference that Net surfers ought to be wary of the "dangers of conformity, of control, of moral and intellectual relativism, which can already be recognized in the decline of critical spirit." These are somewhat shocking words coming from the infallible figurehead of one of the world's more dogmatic faiths. But wait, didn't Martin Luther nail his 'Ninety-Five Theses' at Castle Church because of the moral relativism of selling indulgences? Eh, maybe we're splitting hairs here.

But the surprisingly radical proclamation by the Pope should be taken to heart, nonetheless. As the Internet expands, and as media sources converge through syndication and link-sharing, the Long Tail appears to be shrinking. And this proclamation by the Pope speaks to very real concerns about misinformation and echo-chamber effects in Internet news. As an avid user of the Web himself (having spearheaded the Vatican's YouTube channel and encouraged Church officials to get online more regularly), the Pope has probably come across some "conformity" of thought on the Internet. Or, perhaps this is a side-stepping way to say, effectively, "Don't believe what you read about the Church." Either way, critical vigilance is always good in our book. [From:]

Tags: behavior, catholic, internet, media, pope, PopeBenedictXvi, religion, top, web