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Seems that the 'net, and especially things like message boards and blogs have a tendency to accelerate the trend towards questioning authority. The most worrisome aspect of this is that so much that is found online is accepted at face value - as long as it fits one's world view.

The trend is much older, though, and started with the growing literacy when, in relatively close sequence, new technologies were discovered for making paper and even more importantly, printing.

According to some sources, the first major printing job (or at least one of the earliest, by any account) that Gutenberg had was a pamphlet containing the theses of Martin Luther. And they, of course, posed some uncomfortable questions about the Catholic Church.

So nothing much new. But it brings to the forefront parents' obligation to teach their children media criticism and independent thought. And yes, that is possible within a "faithful" framework.

You write, "So the march toward decentralization will continue and religious institutions, including the LDS Church, will need to adapt or suffer the consequences."

In what way do you think they need to adapt?

That is the question, Agellius. Newspapers are adapting by going out of business. In politics, the effect on presidential campaigns seems to be a race to the bottom of the ethical barrel. In religion, I'm not sure what the overall effect is.

One of our General Authorities tried to draw a line between that which is true, and that which is "helpful". There is certainly much on the 'net that is not "helpful", but the truth or falsity of any given statement is completely unrelated to how "helpful" it might be. If the truth is to set us free, I'm not sure that focusing on how helpful something may or may not be is going to be, in the end...

... very helpful.

I'd like to clarify that decentralization is not so much about easily available information as it is about everyone and anyone being able to gain access to distribution and publishing.

The very use of new media, regardless of content, strips old media of power and authority even if you're saying the same things. The religious implications should be obvious.

I'd be very surprised if in practice there is a move towards decentralization or more "questioning" of authority. The Church historically goes in ebbs and tides over how decentralized it tries to be. Usually the decentralization moves are reversed after a bunch of screw ups or worse at the local level. The most recent example being many of the abuse lawsuits against the Church. The logical consequence? More training and centralization of rules and a decrease in the freedom provided to Bishops.

Likewise the criticism of authority confuses I think authority and fallibilism. Consider an other organization far, far more authoritative than Mormonism. The military. Yet I think everyone in the military acknowledges far more fallibilism in leaders than Mormons tend to. The assumption that fallibilism is in opposition to authority and knowledge of errors in opposition to trust seems false.

You know, I'm having a hard time buying the claim made on the mo-ev blog. It appears to me that the internet is just giving every average joe with 10% of knowledge on any topic the ability to put their thoughts on the same medium as scholars and intellectuals.

I believe that the shrinking credibility gap, thanks to technology, will only make people more critical of media and lead them to authority figures outside of the realm of media(i.e. church figures).

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