The Internet: Making it Vastly More Difficult To Obfuscate
Have you ever gotten a cold call from an unfamiliar charity asking for money, and wonder if the charity was legit and how much of your money would actually go to the kittens or children or police officers or baby seals or whatever if you donated?
Of course you have.
But have you ever taken it upon yourself to find out?
Of course you have not. Because you are — and I mean this in the kindest and most constructive way possible — a lazy, feckless couch muffin what makes Kato Kaelin look like Horatio Alger.
But you could have found out. With an internet connection, you have the tools you need. All you need from there is determination and talent.
Like Kathleen Seidel.
Kathleen Seidel is the ludicrously thorough blogger who runs the usually-over-my-head Neurodiversity Weblog, which follows scientific, legal, and social issues related to autism. We followed along gleefully when Seidel, not herself a lawyer, defeated a thuggish lawyer and got him sanctioned when he served her with a retaliatory and abusive subpoena for writing things critical of one of his anti-vaccine junk science lawsuits. Pardon me if I gush, but Seidel is the embodiment of how good "amateur" blogging can be — how an informed citizen with a subject matter interest willing to put in the time can cover an issue just as thoroughly and usefully as a "professional journalist."
Today, she blogged about her detective work after she got a cold-call charitable solicitation from something called the "Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation," which promises to support children through "TAX DEDUCTABLE" [sic] donations. Just like your fourth-grade math teacher always asked, Seidel shows her work — and the post is a blueprint for an aggressive, thorough, swift investigation of a charitable entity by a citizen journalist. That investigation raised grave questions about the "Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation," not the least of which is the percentage of telemarketing-driven receipts that will ever be used to help autistic kids. Read it if you are interested in those suspicious charitable calls you get, or if you are interested in how one could investigate them.
And ask yourself — couldn't I do this on some subject that interests me? Why haven't I? What would the nation be like, if a hundred thousand people did?
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