Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - November 11, 2021
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Education Continued – Internet Literacy
  2. The November-December Issue of “Peaceable Table” Is Now Online
  3. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

1. Education Continued – Internet Literacy

Human beings, once exclusively denizens of the savannas of Africa, have minds that are ill-equipped to manage the massive amount of information needed to navigate our technologically sophisticated society. In theory, the Internet could alleviate this problem by providing rapid access to much of humanity’s knowledge base. In practice, the Internet seems to be exacerbating the problem.

The Internet poses several challenges to modern society, many of which are well-described in the documentary The Social Dilemma. A major problem relates to how the Internet, which seems attractive because it appears to be free, is not free. Most Internet providers make money through advertising, and this puts a premium on “click-bate” – content designed to attract viewers regardless of veracity or utility. Clever algorithms personalize content in ways that tend to affirm and then radicalize viewpoints rather than offer more balanced, nuanced, and informed content.

Second, a handful of Internet providers, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have a huge impact on the content to which the public is exposed. They have immense power to censor viewpoints for financial, political, or other reasons.

Third, every click and every letter typed on the Internet is stored indefinitely. We might or might not believe promises by Internet platform providers and politicians not to abuse this threat to our privacy, but there will always be a possible future threat. For example, an autocratic government would not shy from using these data to find and punish its opponents.

Fourth, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) provides Internet providers the tools to identify our own fears and desires better than we ourselves. This makes us increasingly vulnerable to social and political manipulation. Even if we try to “fool” the AI, for example through uncharacteristic web site visits, clever AI programs will recognize and correct for the aberrations.

There is no easy solution. Every technological advance enhances the power of humanity, and every kind of power is a double-edged sword that can be used for good or evil. For our schools, I suggest a secular equivalent to Jesus’ teaching, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). To prepare students to navigate the world, including being responsible voting citizens, we should teach students the perils of the Internet as well as its many amazing attributes.

Next week, I will consider political philosophy, with an emphasis on the importance of free speech.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D. 

2. The November-December Issue of “Peaceable Table” Is Now Online

Contents include:

  • The Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom tells of four tiny infant squirrels adopted by a queen cat in Crimea.
  • In the Editor's Corner Essay, some comparisons are made between the psychology of rescuers of Jewish refugees during WWII with that of rescuers of animals facing "slaughter," i.e., massacre.
  • In Unset Gems, we hear word of a surprising potential ally in promoting compassion for animals: art.
  • Gina Cerminara, better known as a writer on parapsychology, is our Pioneer in Compassion in this issue. She was in fact a Renaissance woman, and engaged in several other compassionate projects as well.
  • The subject of Robert Ellwood's Review, The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence, offers adventure as well as information about the last project of a fearless animal defender. Although the rhinos of central Africa were, tragically, not saved, another remarkable benefit did take place.
  • You're sure to enjoy the ragout in this Recipe from Kate Carpenter, full of familiar ingredients delightfully combined.
  • Both Poetry selections are likely to sound familiar to many of you; we have featured both the fragment of William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" and George MacDonald's "A Christmas Prayer."

To read this issue online, go to HERE.

Blessings and Keep Well,
Gracia Fay Ellwood

3. From All-Creatures.Org Ministry

Here are our recent All-Creatures Newsletter, which we hope you like and share with others to help stop the exploitation and killing of animals.

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