This era is often called the Information Age, a time when information became free, and at our fingertips. I have spent the last decade reading scientific papers, often donated by scientists who love to see someone fascinated in their area of expertise. I have watched lectures, of varying levels of education, for free on various sites. I have discussed this information with others, scientists in the fields and those studying them. All because I have the most insatiable sense of curiosity.
My primary focus has been on biochemistry, medicine, and neurology. This has brought me into neighboring fields of study to help supplement the information. I finally took a break then looked back on everything I had learned, refreshing my memory, basically. Suddenly it dawned on me, I had just learned enough to earn master's degrees in at least three fields of scientific research, and it didn't cost thousands of dollars. Far from it, most of it was completely free, often just for the asking.
First, what drew me to the fields was my strong background in chemistry, and a fascination with how chemicals interact with each other. When I learned that complex organisms were really walking chemistry labs, my curiosity got the better of me, I dove in head first. Picturing the chemical interactions within the human body became a way to relax, tracing the rout of a single carbon atom through all the chemical reactions while it travels into and out of the various cells. That sense of knowing something set my mind at ease during hard times.
But that's not the meat of this post, what I am illustrating is just how much more valuable information is today than ever before. Sort of the inverse of supply and demand constructs. One would think that the huge influx of free information, with all the excess junk also mixed in, the value of the information would fall to nothing. The junk is, luckily, not the reason for it increasing in value.
The reason it has increased in value is the same reason many lobby groups in the USA are trying to censor and control the flow of information, people can learn more than those who pay for it. This creates a huge imbalance of information in the real world, one which has upset many of those with higher educations to the point of decrying the internet as a whole. The phrase "where'd you hear that? Off the internet" is meant as a slur against those of us not stupid enough to pay for what we can get for free.
When I go to a doctor I have to pretend to be stupid, actually, the moment you betray even a small amount of knowledge in something, the rage that fills their mannerisms is plain to see. They genuinely hate you just for knowing even one thing that they spent thousands of dollars to learn. Professionals cannot tolerate any competition, nor do they like having their elitist clubs threatened by something they cannot control. So in spite of the fact that I know more about what's going on that most doctors, I play like I am ignorant so that I can get what I need from them, a second opinion and the proper medication legally.
I made the mistake of letting my general care doctor learn of just a small amount of what I knew, my diagnosis was accurate, her diagnosis made out of anger was not. Another doctor even said she was wrong, and stated my diagnosis was correct, even though I did not let him know it was my diagnosis. So the information I have learned is more valuable than the information they have learned, only because I learned it out of curiosity, for almost no cost, while they spent thousands in the hopes of making millions for that same information.
This does not mean you should take everything you read online as fact, far from it. You must sift through a lot of junk sometimes, forming connections online with various professionals can help, many of the ones who frequent the internet social sites are always too happy to talk about what they know. Scientists, real ones, who frequent social sites are also very happy to show off the papers they write that have passed peer review, meaning they are as close to factual as you can get at the time. That pesky peer review method, where everyone and their mother tries to destroy your hard work through any means possible, but more papers are withstanding this barrage every day.
That is he key to if a source is valid, the scientific method has produced an explosion of solid information that is often shared freely by those who utilize it. So don't be shy, learn what you can. Open up the links to scientific research, talk to the scientific communities, discuss and ask questions. Seek the lectures shared by universities, for free, on media sites. Most importantly, fuel your curiosity. Start letting the elitists know that they are no longer necessary, they can be replaced if they don't shape up, if they don't start treating everyone right.