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Pope Says Technology Causes Confusion Between Reality and Fiction 779

Posted by samzenpus
from the where's-the-reset-button dept.
Pope Benedict XVI has warned that people are in danger of being unable to discern reality from fiction because of new technologies, and not old books. "New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality. The image can also become independent from reality, it can give birth to a virtual world, with various consequences -- above all the risk of indifference towards real life," he said.

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Pope Says Technology Causes Confusion Between Reality and Fiction

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:13PM (#33871334) Journal

    "New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality. The image can also become independent from reality, it can give birth to a virtual world, with various consequences -- above all the risk of indifference towards real life."

    That's funny. It's arguable that the same could be said about the Bible. How many thousands of pages have been written about the workings of the Divine, or of the afterlife, when no one has truly seen either?

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:16PM (#33871390) Homepage

      Not to mention how many pages have been changed.

      The fact that there are different "versions" of the Bible amuse me to no end. If it was truly god's word, wouldn't there be just one version?

      I'm not referring to words or phrases lost in translation...I'm talking about things like King James versions, etc.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:26PM (#33871560) Homepage

        Well considering that one would have to be fluent in Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew to read the "just one version" I think that you have to accept newer translations over time as the English language evolves, and as historians discover new idiosyncrasies in the ancient languages. You can argue that this is not all that's changed, but it doesn't preclude new versions from coming out for good reason.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

        by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:35PM (#33871762)

        Well, those are translation problems. You have to read it in the original Klingon.

      • Before you go too far with your Pope bashing, he's probably just quoting scientists who discovered the same thing.

        Various studies over the years have found the same parts of the brain "light up". The human neural net reacts to watching TV shows and movies as if they were real world events.
        .

    • by mrvan (973822) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:30PM (#33871652)

      Scientist (well me, in any case) Says Religion Causes Confusion Between Reality and Fiction

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dindi (78034)

      On the contrary, most modern "technologies and the progress" (whatever this might mean to him) have a strong technological (and logical) foundation, explanation, and their existence (virtual or real) can be verified, proven explained and reproduced. Given, that you care to get the details.

      A lot of things in religions writings are not possible to prove, their existence is "anecdotal" at best. And if you care about the details and try to prove any of them, well, then there you go down the rabbit-hole.

      Evolutio

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:13PM (#33871358)

    Pretty sure people have been unable to discern the stories told in the bible from reality for quite some time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:14PM (#33871366)
    I can't distinguish the pope from some loony old guy who keeps talking weird stuff
    • Benedict sucks, John Paul II was better.
  • by 6031769 (829845) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:15PM (#33871372) Homepage Journal

    ... tell him he owes me a new irony meter.

  • Here is my reality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:16PM (#33871384)
    The reality is that I'm never letting my kid around any priest, or ever trusting the church again. That real enough?
  • by ColdGrits (204506) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:17PM (#33871392)
    Tell us, Papa Ratzi, how else would you describe someone who adtively protects, supports, defends and hides known repeat paedophiles, hmm?
    That sounds exactly like someone who is indifferent toward real life.
    So get off your high horse and join the real world.
    And startby turning over those of your priests who are paedos to the lawful authorities and stop protecting, supporting, defending and hiding the paedos.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:17PM (#33871396)
    Talk about confusion! Dinosaurs walking with people, Noah's Ark, a walk through Biblical History...I can't figure out WHO is telling the truth! http://creationmuseum.org/whats-here/exhibits/ [creationmuseum.org]
    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      Talk about confusion! Dinosaurs walking with people, Noah's Ark, a walk through Biblical History...I can't figure out WHO is telling the truth! http://creationmuseum.org/whats-here/exhibits/ [creationmuseum.org]

      After growing up watching the Flintstones, Gilligan's Island, and playing my records backwards I know how you feel.

    • I don't see anything on that site that endorses Dinosaurs walking with people, though it might be there. At any rate you are are guilty of straw man, false dilemma or ad hominem fallacies.

      A) The pope does not endorse a literal view of creationism.
      B) Even if the Bible does distort peoples perceptions of reality that does not mean that technology doesn't. Nor does it mean that the argument that technology distorts reality is any less credible because the person who makes it supports something else which doe

    • by supersloshy (1273442) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:42PM (#33871922)

      Just so you know, the Catholic church welcomes scientific explanations for the origin of mankind besides "Creation Science", including the theory of Evolution, so long as that science is used in a non-misleading way (for example, Evolution is fine so long as you recognize that there was a God that started it in the first place, but superstitious "mind science" like New Age theories are obviously false, assuming that you believe all of the other Catholic doctrines). You're thinking of fundamentalist, Protestant churches and denominations which take a rather extreme biblical literacy approach (which the Catholic Church hasn't had for well over a thousand years).

  • I looked at that photo of him and felt complete indifference.

  • I'm not confused between reality and fiction, I just want to know are we talking about Pope Ratzinger or the Space Pope [wikia.com] here?
  • by nysus (162232) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:19PM (#33871438)

    OK, when you're done ripping on the pope, stop and consider his point of view and what he has to say. Whether you agree or disagree, his point deserves some honest thought and debate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Millennium (2451)

      Among large parts of the Slashdot crowd, the fact that he's not an atheist is enough to disqualify his viewpoint from any kind of respect.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Not really, because far better men than him have made that argument, and it was no less laughable.

    • OK, when you're done ripping on the pope, stop and consider his point of view and what he has to say. Whether you agree or disagree, his point deserves some honest thought and debate.

      His point is no more deserving of thought and debate than that of any other observer from outside of the industry. In fact, I would be willing to bet that Pope Benedict might have some sort of agenda...

    • OK, when you're done ripping on the pope ...

      Oops! Looks like someone coded an infinite conditional into their English post. I mean, will Slashdot ever run out of things to criticize him for?

      Clearly his anti-technology agenda is just a cover for him trying to stop websites from spreading data on molesting priests and the parishes they have been hidden at. </sarcasm>

      Personally I've given up on ripping apart the Catholic Pope. I am confirmed Catholic. I know The Holy Bible fairly well but whenever I want to discuss what the Pope says I

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:36PM (#33871788)

      Okay. His major purpose in life is to try to get as many people to believe the stuff written in his book of choice, including the magic parts, is the literal truth. As part of that, he has to convince them that the stuff written in everyone ELSE's book of choice is lies, at best misguided, but more likely evil. His organization, which derives it's take on reality from a book, has a long history of violently opposing stuff written in other books, or interpretations of stuff written in their own book they don't agree with, then eventually deciding, well, maybe it's true after all (or at least not burning at the stake worthy). You might even say that the bible has confused the church about reality.

      Now he'd like us to believe that books (well, the right kind of books anyway) tell the truth and don't confuse us about reality, but that this newfangled electronic stuff does.

      Hm.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Hey, you no playa the game, you no maka the rules!
    • by Target Drone (546651) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:40PM (#33871866)

      The actual article seems like a troll as it only reports a couple of snipits. Here's [speroforum.com] a better one with the full quote I found via google. The Pope was actually talking about the way modern media reports the news.

      Today, for example, the world of appearances has an increasing weight with the development of new technologies; but if on the one hand this has doubtless positive aspects, on the other, the image can also become detached from reality , it can give life to a virtual world, with diverse consequences, the first of which is the risk of indifference to the truth. In fact, new technologies, together with the progress that they bring, can result in what is true and what is false becoming interchangeable, it can lead to confusing the real with the virtual. In addition, reporting of an event, happy or sad, can be consumed as entertainment and not as an occasion for reflection. The search for ways to authentically promote man then disappears into the background, because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions. These issues are alarm bells: an invitation to consider the danger that the virtual distances us from reality and does not stimulate the pursuit of what is true, the truth.

      • by TheLink (130905) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @01:32PM (#33872942) Journal

        reporting of an event, happy or sad, can be consumed as entertainment and not as an occasion for reflection.

        because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions

        Yeah like Foxnews, Daily Mail and even Slashdot.

        And the way many treat US politics like prowrestling, only dirtier (and with nuclear options).

        Thus I think it not so much technology that's the problem. It's the lack of integrity and sincerity. No respect for the truth.

        The mass media etc are just cynically trolling their "consumers" for hits/circulation.

        Like this Slashdot article perhaps? :)

      • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @02:04PM (#33873530) Homepage Journal
        Sounds like the Pope criticized places like Slashdot (amongst others), and Slashdot responded in kind by flaming the Pope's message and trolling it's own board with an inflammatory summary. In other words, par for the course on a typical /. day!

        =)

        I only worry about what 4chan's response to such comments might involve... /shudder.
  • ...reality and fiction.

  • Has he watched Fox News?
  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:21PM (#33871474)

    The church is struggling for relevance in the modern world. This does not help.

    Sounds to me like the Catholic Church wants to go back to the old days of an illiterate flock lead in a latin mass.
    Because then people had a more "realistic" connection to things that were important like tithing or the consequences of no doing so.

    • The pope visited the UK recently. The one statement that he made that really made me boggle was when he complained that people were trying to rationalise religion.

      If we don't rationalise - then what are we ?

  • At some point technology will be so advanced that couldn't be distinguished from magic... or miracles, at least for the people that don't understand it. The solution is not to complain, to hide, or to ban technology, is to make people to understand it.
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      At some point technology will be so advanced that couldn't be distinguished from magic..

      For many people we reached that point years ago. It's not so much a sudden thing, but something that happens gradually as technology improves or education fails to keep up.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:24PM (#33871518)

    I mean, the whole monotheism thing strongly suggests we ourselves are in a layer of simulation. So how real is virtual reality under those circumstances?

  • Not a new concern (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Palestrina (715471) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:25PM (#33871532) Homepage

    In any age, there were those who blurred reality for oppressive means. Whether rewriting history to depict Native Americans submitting to colonists in a painting, to airbrushing out Stalin's opponents in photographs. Technology is a tool, and as moral beings we have the ability to do good or evil with it with it, including distorting reality.

  • I nominate writing. Proof:

    1. Twilght
    2. The Bible
    3. Primary school Civics textbooks
    4. etc...
  • Darn those courts using technology to discover all the pedophiles he covers for!
  • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:30PM (#33871646) Homepage Journal

    Aside from everybody spotting the obvious irony here, I went to read the original article to see if I could get all contrarian and spot some useful insight. I find that whenever I hear a story of the form "Person X said something monumentally stupid", there's practically always something in either the subsequent or preceding sentence that provides context and makes it debatable or thought-provoking or even obvious. That doesn't necessarily apply to people who make a living saying monumentally stupid things, often for political gain, but people who actually think for a living (and I do include the Pope in that category) often think more subtly than single-sentence extracts from newspaper articles makes them out to be.

    Except in this case, that's all there is. The article is 5 sentences long. It gives no context and only the barest hint of who the audience is. It doesn't link to the full text. As far as I can tell it's not the Montreal Gazette's fault; they ran the entire article as it came to the off the Agence France-Press wire service. I had a reasonably high impression of AFP; perhaps I need to reconsider that.

    Maybe there will be a more useful article coming in the future, one that provides something more than an opportunity for something other than simply going "tsk tsk" at the Pope. But RTFA in this case isn't going to make you any smarter.

    (Look, I'm not here to defend the Pope. Yes, I'm aware of all the terrible things the Church and he personally have done, and I think it needs to be prosecuted. But I want my opinions to come from actual crimes, not suspiciously short quotes.)

  • You know, it's funny to hear the pope talk about not being able to distinguish fiction from reality (setting aside that that's the whole premise of religion), but when I hear the pope call anyone out on "indifference towards real life", it makes my blood boil. We're talking about an organization that covered up molestation of kids, that tells Africans that condoms are bad despite the rampant AIDS epidemic, the sheer opulence of the Vatican contrasted with the poverty they claim to serve. And this is just fr
  • Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:31PM (#33871678)
    To a greater or lesser degree, the Pope might have a point. If we take his broad argument and narrow it down to some information of the internet, he very well be on to something. One problem with information on the Internet is that it's accuracy can be dubious at best. A person could post a bald-faced lie and pass it off as truth. Technology can make it easier to use propaganda that is founded on a lie to gain popularity for a politican. On the other hand, the same can be done with printed material - technology only makes it more economic and faster.
  • New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality.

    Seriously? This coming from a man whose subordinates spread the lie that condoms don't prevent the spread of aids? From a guy whose predecessors believed they could change matters of fact [wikipedia.org] by turning on their special powers? From an institution that is completely invested in the idea that consciousness is somehow divorced from the body (e.g, the

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:32PM (#33871710)

    ... the real risk is simply human beings don't know how to think and most aren't intelligent enough to think. Most people would rather live illusions and lies. This is why religion is so pervasive, we are a species that loves our lies, technology or not. It takes real courage to pursue truth with eternal vigilance because it means your morality and feelings get over turned and you have to let real knowledge change you.

    Most people do not want to do that.

  • I agree with him to a point. Psychologically healthy person won't have a problem with this, but some people who are already compromised may completely loose touch with reality.

    Everyone I've known playing MMO's had a pretty firm handle on reality, largely because they don't think orcs elves or dragons are real.

    Then I've known some second life people who have the line blurred. I can't forget once when someone was trying to convince me of something, then they said, oh, nevermind that was in SL.

    And, don't fo

  • sate their sexual urges. Just give them a PC and a Second Life account. Onanism is surelly a smaller sin than rape.
  • a pusher of a non-existent god has no room to talk. Can you ride a bicycle? [youtube.com]
  • by Dalzhim (1588707) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:34PM (#33871750)

    Pope Benedict XVI has warned that people are in danger of being unable to discern reality from fiction because of questioning blind faith. "Reconsideration of dogmas and the refusal to believe proposals without proof can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to damnation instead of salvation. The questioning individual can also become independent from the Bible, it can give birth to a virtual world, with various consequences -- above all the risk of indifference towards the Church," he said.

  • I'm not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:36PM (#33871778)
    No surprise that somebody who believes in virgin birth and a water-walking zombie riddle-speaking prophet God has difficulty distinguishing between reality and fiction. The real question is, does technology make it difficult for atheists to distinguish between reality and fiction?
  • From his perspective, this is actually quite an understandable reaction. Technology exposes people to a larger variety of fictions that other people believe - which makes picking out the "right" story of reality less clearly a matter of where you were born as with previous generations.

    When the ultimate truths of the universe are less a matter of derived logic and reason, and more revealed wisdom, then the entire key to "properly receiving" that truth is framing. Framing that is only reliable when informat

  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by WillyWanker (1502057) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:38PM (#33871808)
    So now I can't jerk off OR play video games? Damn dude, WTH am I supposed to do with my free time?
    • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gorkamecha (948294) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @01:17PM (#33872662)
      You're not supposed to have free time - Any time that you're not working in the fields for your King/Leader/Authority figure you should be spending in contemplation on how awful a person you are, and begging for forgiveness for that. At least that's my understanding of the situation.
  • Imagine that ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:39PM (#33871840)

    Imagine that, the slashdot crowd would rather take shots at religion than assess what the man is actually saying.

    No where is he saying that technology is bad. No where is he saying that technology will be the doom of us all. No where is he saying repent ye sinners! He's saying be careful with your gadgets and how you let them augment your life. I believe Asimov had similar warnings.

  • he's right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:55PM (#33872218) Homepage Journal

    look at the rise of right wing blogs, and the people who would trust it more than they trust mass media

    a media channel loses its credibility, its audience, and its advertisers when it lies. so it has to fact check. additionally, it must remain neutral and moderate, and not espouse an agenda, or it turns people off, which means less advertising revenue. moderation and neutrality is of paramount importance to mass media

    when bush was in office the far left complained about the right wing mass media supporting the phony march of war on iraq, etc. well, there is no right wing mass media, and there is no left wing mass media, there is only mass media. the real problem is that the far right thinks it is liberal, and the far left think it is conservative, only because their own perspective is so far right (or left). move far right enough, and you can't tell the difference any more between moderate and lefty. move far left enough, and you can't tell the difference any more between moderate and right-wing

    so now, with the internet, we see the rise of far right wing people and far left wing people walled off in their own media universe. their own little walled garden of self-reinforcing lies. obama is a "secret muslim". obama is not an american citizen. this is obviously insanity. but walled off on their own, in their own ideological echo chamber of lies, people begin to believe these obvious smears and lies rather than reality

    so the pope is 100% correct: the internet has allowed reality and illusion to become inseparable for people. it takes energy to change your beliefs to align with reality. so why change your beliefs? just change your reality instead, by choosing your partisan blogs over mass media

    there are a class of people now who distrust mass media, yet, exasperatingly, trust partisan blogs which lie all the time in support of an agenda, and openly do not care about the truth or fact checking or credibility, as long as they advance a cause

    this is genuinely dangerous and scary. the internet is enabling the fractionating of society into walled fiefdoms of ideologues, and no real truth, or at least even common mythology. people pick and choose what they want to believe, regardless of reality. at least mass media made for a true commons of the people. now we only have open warfare amongst entrenched ideological gangs. and the internet makes that possible

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