August 17 (Thursday)

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Nature, animals, geography, flags, political science, Latin music, thunderstorms, revolutions, black holes — these are some of the many things that fascinate me. And that’s more or less what Geobop (Geobopological Survey) was in the beginning: a collection of websites focusing on things that interest me.

But why should you bother visiting this corner of the Internet when there are millions of other people writing about things that interest them on websites, blogs and forums? And why bother sorting through the countless websites cluttering the Internet when you can simply go to online giants like Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica for information? What makes Geobop special?

Information Wilderness

No one has a monopoly on knowledge. Nor can anyone present that knowledge in every conceivable format — and that’s a significant factor when you consider people’s varied learning styles.

Some websites target adults, others children. Some delve into great detail, while others offer brief articles or simple facts. Some websites offer lots of pictures, others offer other special features, while still others offer little more than plain text.

Many college professors tell students to not use Wikipedia in their research because it isn’t considered a reliable reference in the academic world. Encyclopedia Britannica is more respected, yet Wikipedia is a far more popular website, just as millions of people snub healthy food in favor of McDonalds. Moral: You can’t always judge a website’s quality by its popularity.

The sheer amount of information floating around out there is overwhelming, and no single website can cover it all. Not surprisingly, the website Abbey’s Web is a better source of information about the late renegade park ranger Edward Abbey than Geobop, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica combined.

Though Geobop covers a lot of territory, it is divided into several websites, each of which is designed around a particular subject. If you visit GeoZoo, you will find yourself immersed in biology, for example. Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica both have more biology resources, but they don’t offer the same immersion. They have various resources Geobop doesn’t have, but Geobop has resources they don’t have.

But what about accuracy? And what about bias, particularly regarding topics like politics or social issues? How can Geobop possibly compete with respected giants like Encyclopedia Britannica, National Geographic and Wikipedia?

Comparisons

That question can be answered with two words:

Corporate Corruption

Unless you’ve been living in a cave all your life, you should know that corporations control not just the U.S. government but the legal system, media and just about everything else. Many people don’t like to talk about corporate corruption, but it’s a fact of life, and it has an enormous impact on the media — including the Internet.

Geobop is an independent website with no corporate connections and therefore no corporate agenda. Unfortunately, much of the information presented by the competition is seriously biased and often outright false. For example, articles about certain socio-political topics vary wildly between Geobop, Encyclopedia and Britannica. Let’s examine three examples — Bill Gates, Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (The table below contains links to articles referenced in these examples.)

  Geobop Enc. Britannica Wikipedia
Bill Gates Gates Gates Gates
Osama bin Laden Osama Osama Osama
September 11 attacks   9/11 9/11

1. Bill Gates — Saint or Crook?

Articles about Bill Gates on websites representing Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia both describe Bill Gates as a “philanthropist” and scarcely hint at his many crimes and scandals. Nor do they have much to say about Gates’ father, a very powerful and corrupt lawyer who may be the secret to Bill Gates’ spectacular success.

Wikipedia: “William Henry ‘Bill’ Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor and philanthropist.”

Encyclopedia Britannica: “bill gates (American computer programmer, businessman, and philanthropist)”

Geobop (Politix): “Bill Gates . . . ranks among the world’s biggest corporate crooks and con men.”

In fact, Bill Gates has long been considered little more than a crook by millions of people. With his enormous wealth and political clout and his endless exploitation of education and health issues, many people now regard him as a monster, a view shared by Geobop. But who’s right?

Pardon the arrogance, but I, David Blomstrom — Geobop’s webmaster — actually live in Seattle, Bill Gates’ birth place and backyard. I worked as a teacher in Seattle’s public schools for sixteen years. I’ve run for public office seven times. I don’t just read about Bill Gates; I’ve experienced his so-called philanthropy, and I’m painfully aware of the often devastating results. Seattle’s public schools have been steadily declining since the 1960s, and you can probably find more homeless people sleeping on sidewalks in Seattle than in all of Cuba. It isn’t rocket science.

2. Osama bin Laden

Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) and Wikipedia both claim Osama bin Laden founded al-Qaeda. EB further states that bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while Wikipedia states that al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks. Both articles claim that bin Laden was assassinated by an elite U.S. military unit.

Encyclopedia Britannica: “Osama bin Laden . . . founder of the militant Islamist organization al-Qaeda and mastermind of numerous terrorist attacks against the United States and other Western powers, including the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. warship Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.”

Wikipedia: “Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden . . . was the founder of al-Qaeda, the Sunni militant Islamist organization that claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the United States, along with numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. . . . On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group and Central Intelligence Agency operatives in a covert operation ordered by United States President Barack Obama.”

Geobop (Politix): “Osama bin Laden was an Arab freedom fighter who fought against two superpowers — the Soviet Union and United States — becoming internationally famous when he was accused (probably falsely) by the U.S. government of masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The U.S. government’s claim that bin Laden was killed by an elite U.S. military unit in Pakistan is almost certainly a lie.”

In fact, there’s considerable debate about the nature of al-Qaeda, with many people even questioning its existence. (Some people jokingly refer to it as al-CIAda.) Nor has it been proved that Osama bin Laden was associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the U.S. government’s version of 9/11 is extremely suspicious. The story about bin Laden’s assassination by U.S. Navy SEALs is almost certainly a lie. In fact, the story began unraveling soon after the alleged assassination made headlines.

3. 9/11

Take a look at the descriptions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks below.

Encyclopedia Britannica: “series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda . . . The attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C., caused extensive death and destruction and triggered an enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.”

Wikipedia: “The September 11 attacks . . . were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States . . . 9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite negligible support for such views from expert scientists, engineers, and historians.”

Again, both sources cite al-Qaeda without even mentioning the group’s controversial nature (does it even exist?). Encyclopedia Britannica claims the attacks triggered the United States’ war against terrorism.

Wrong! The U.S. merely exploited terrorism in a grab for money and power (largely in the form of oil).

Most shocking of all is Wikipedia’s claim that there’s negligible support for 9/11 conspiracy theories. In fact, there are numerous enormous red flags that make the government’s version of 9/11 impossible to believe.

For example, there are no photographs of the airliner that supposedly struck the Pentagon. One doesn’t have to be a scientist, engineer or historian to appreciate the significance of that bizarre fact, which has never been satisfactorily explained. And how does one explain the fact that neither the commander-in-chief (President George W. Bush) nor Vice President Dick Cheney took charge of the military during the attacks? In fact, the evidence suggests the military was ordered to effectively do nothing.

So who cares about politics?

If you have no interest in politics, then Bill Gates, Osama bin Laden and 9/11 may be irrelevant...or are they?

Genetically modified (GMO) food rivals global warming as the most important environmental issue of our generation. If you’re a scientist or naturalist who cares about the environment, or if you simply care about your health, you have to be concerned about GMO food.

So who’s promoting GMO food? Bill Gates! Monsanto is the corporation that produces GMO food, but Bill Gates invested a lot of money in the industry and became the leading spokesman. So if Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia won’t print the truth about Bill Gates, how can we believe what they have to say about GMO food? Conversely, they could disinform readers by not mentioning GMO food in relevant articles to begin with.

National Geographic also lied about 9/11, Iraq and Libya. So what else has it lied about? Is it telling us the truth about endangered species or ecosystems? Is it ignoring environmental problems created by the U.S. military? Will National Geographic ever publish an accurate article about the impact of depleted uranium, for example?

Even if you have no interest in war or economics, your financial status is affected by both. That alone makes them relevant. As the late astronomer turned political activist Carl Sagan said, “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to choose between Geobop, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica or yet another source of information. If you really want to learn about something, it’s generally a good idea to check a variety of sources.

In that spirit, I hope you include Geobop on your list of favorite websites. Unlike Wikipedia, it isn’t written by anonymous authors, including people who haven’t even mastered basic English grammar. Unlike Encyclopedia Britannica, it isn’t a corporate entity that can be bribed by Bill Gates.

Geobop is a family of websites with a mission, and truth is a major part of that mission. As a former teacher in Seattle, I can tell you that conspiracy theories about students being “dumbed down” are more than theories. Even intelligent adults can be overwhelmed by the propaganda that swirls all around us.

Geobop will never be as big as Encyclopedia Britannica or Wikipedia, but, pound for pound, it’s actually a better resource in many respects. The webmaster certainly knows more about biology, the environment and education than Bill Gates does. ;)