What can a computer not tell you about yourself? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
If there’s one kind of show I enjoy watching a lot on TV, it’s a gameshow. I can get into most any of them. One interesting one to watch is 20Q. This is based on the game Twenty Questions. Contestants answer questions from Mr. Q, a computer. In the end, they have to go up against him to see if they can beat him.
Mr. Q can process information at remarkable speeds and has a database from which he can examine all possible answers from the clues that he is given. He will say in the middle of the final round when the contestant goes up against him from time to time how many answers he’s processing. Truly, a computer is brilliant at analyzing information and coming to conclusions.
Yet, despite all of this, there is something that he cannot find out no matter how much he searches his database.
He cannot tell what a contestant is thinking.
In the rounds where he’s sifting out who his opponent will be, sometimes he will say “I wonder if Bill (someone in the running not playing at the time) knows what the answer to this round is yet.” No matter how much Mr. Q can search his database or even the internet, which apparently he has access to, he cannot find that out.
I am sure someone more astute than I in philosophy could make a fascinating argument for the existence of the soul from this, but that’s not my goal this time. My goal is to point out that as great as the internet is, it cannot tell you who you are. This is important because too many kids today think it can do just that.
In the book Irreversible Damage, one howler of a line Abigail Shrier gives that is an argument for kids undergoing gender transitioning is that teenagers know who they are. Shrier does not think this is accurate and I don’t see how anyone can make such a statement with a straight face. I’m 40 years old and I’m still learning who I am. I am sure there are people much older than I who are doing the same.
In an audiobook I’m reading now while I’m driving, Girls and Sex, it’s amazing how many girls go to the internet to find out about who they are. It’s safe to say the majority of these kids do not know how to really use a search engine for research purposes. Because of this, they can be very impressionable to whatever they come across.
Not only that, they will often talk to complete strangers online who only have the scantiest of information to go by to advise them about who they are. These people often become more reliable than the people in their real lives who know them best. This is another problem with social media.
We all know about the people who go on sites like WebMD and diagnose themselves, usually with having stage 4 cancer of the most untreatable kind. The Babylon Bee at the start of the Coronavirus scare had a story about WebMD just changing to a page that said, “Yep. You’ve got Corona.” I’m sure plenty of people self-diagnosed themselves.
In psychology, there’s a rule really that you don’t try to diagnose someone from a distance. This is why psycho history has largely been a failed enterprise. It can be difficult enough for a therapist to diagnose a patient sitting on the couch in their office who they can directly interact with and ask the questions they want answers to. It’s much harder to diagnose someone when you’re only getting pieces of their life and can’t ask them questions.
When it comes to gender transitioning, too often, the patient becomes the doctor and comes in and says “I’m really the opposite gender” and the therapist is supposed to agree immediately. What other field does this happen in? If you went to your doctor and told him you were sure you had stage 4 cancer, is he going to prep you for surgery and/or radiation treatment immediately? No way. He’s going to test you and examine you first.
If kids are going to the internet to find out who they are, they could in some ways be engaging in groupthink without knowing it as many other kids are doing the same and they will all get back the same or at least similar results. The best ways to find who you are is to talk to the people who know you best and allow them to be honest. Also, going and seeing a board certified counselor can help too. Naturally, Scripture and prayer can also reveal much about who you are.
The internet can’t do that. Mr. Q could probably beat you in a game of 20Q. He could tell you many things about yourself that are public knowledge, but when it comes to your own thinking, he is clueless. He can’t tell you who you are. No computer can.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)