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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Garbage In . . .

A poster on this blog beat me to the punch on raising this subject (link: http://frumnet.blogspot.com/2005/01/statistics-department.html#c110556101365457505 2nd comment). I'd nevertheless like to paint the issue with a bit more color.

Because we must be loathe to presume that intelligent 'yiden' of accomplishment or 'yichus' can come to such variant and different conclusions about the 'net', perhaps we should fall back on the old computer adage 'Garbage In - Garbage Out'.

Those venting some of the strongest opinions against the Internet, though they may of stature, may have only minimal first hand knowledge of it. Adding to the problem, their second and third hand knowledge is also neither pristine nor unbiased. Their conclusions can not be stronger than their data.

I have always understood 'Daas Torah L'Hepach m'daas Baal Habayis' is contingent on those interpreting Daas Torah having both Torah knowledge and accurate, complete information. A Rov must actually see an animal he poskins on - not a sample of spoiled meat from the animal. Similarly, first hand visual data is necessary in other areas requiring psak halacha. Witnesses to crimes must also have seen the event themselves.

Regarding our issue only a wide survey of real internet data or at least user data in a given kehilla can give an accurate picture. We cannot make decision which will affect 'kovod hatorah' and respect for Rabbonim, as well as much needed parnosas based on one or two bad apples. If we make decisions like that, we would prohibit chareidi newspapers because a few unfortunates have acquired bad magazines from newsstands!

Each community must make it's own first hand analysis of how many are actually on-line, and how many of those have actually been harmed be being there. And why the harm occurred.

And this must be raw data, freed of all interference by self appointed intermediaries whose blood sport is finding scandal and informing.

And only afterward can it be determined what Daas Torah is.


Blogger TheProf said...

In answer to Circle on both this and the previous blog, chicken or egg. well not really an answer because I basically agree with him on both concepts. I would with certainty posit that the ruba d'ruba who have been nechshal on the web, in any area, were those individuals who had problems beforehand. Whether these problems were yiddishkeit oriented or sholom bayis, the internet became the person's method of satisfying a vacuum in their life. True, the internet, with its anonymity, is so much easier than any method available in the past. But the problem is actually basic to the individual rather than the method.
As for the concept of daas torah deciding on an issue without proper knowledge, I think that depends on the actual issue. True a posek won't give a psak on the kashrus of a chicken without seeing the chicken. But he will pasken on an isue by asking questions regarding that issue. Our gedolim and poskim and roshei yeshivos and admorim, basically every sector of orthodox jewry's daas torah, has given a clear psak that the internet is assur. That said, my feeling is that what they have done is set up a possible parameter of issur in order for those of us who think they have "no choice" but to use the internet, to realize that as we avail ourselves of the internet, we should be aware of the dangers and tread carefully... very very carefully. I have recently come acrosss, with accurate personal knowledge, of two "horror" stories about two quite upstanding and chosuva individuals who have been caught up in a web of issur of their own making. Why? I can't answer that in this venue. But to be continued as I see further comments. Leapa? Any comments?

3:46 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

You make a number of points.
1. Asking questions on a subject rather than empirical knowledge is dangerous because misinformation is prevalent. One must make absolutely certain to be exhaustive in getting to a true sample, and this is hard.
2. I don't know if issues that are second hand in nature and come out with parameters and indicators lend themselves to the language of 'isur', which is a definite halachic term generally used for situations viewed first hand and then handled in a thumbs-up, thumbs-down manner. "Osur"? there's no treading carefully there. No treading at all. Parameters? That's a whole different area.
3. Your two unfortunates - could there have been a technical solution? A solution of talking to others which, like Dr. Twerski's correspondent in Hamodia (see above) is hard to implement in a situation of 'isur'.
Did the current situation of 'isur' help or hurt these individuals? Were these new phenomena in the individual's lives?
Let's brainstorm!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Prof, You have something to say. Would you care to become a member of this blog? (You can remain anonymous)

6:00 PM  

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orthodox jews and the internet.