What’s unsaid.

I interact with a lot of folks online, and while some of them agree with me, some of them don’t, and some of them do both. It’s the usual interactions of humans everywhere, say something, express an opinion, have someone come back with a challenge, defend, counter…….the story of how humans have always interacted, write on the electronic media that is the Internet.

Recently, I got into a “discussion” that revolved around a story, posted on a ‘pro-life’ Web site, that Pepsi was working to develop a new sweetener for it’s line of products. It’s teamed up with a company that, according to the groups site, will use cells from aborted fetuses to produce said new sweetener. The individual who brought this to my attention, who is very “pro-life”, thought that this was the sign of absolute evil, that this was the worst thing that could happen, a major company ‘profiting’ off ‘dead babies’.

The problem is, the story on that site doesn’t tell the whole story.

You see, the company will be using a specific cell line, HEK293. It’s a line of kidney cells, and it is derived from cells harvested from aborted fetuses, but the line was developed in the 1970’s, in Holland no less. Here’s a little something on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEK_cell

You see, the ‘pro-life’ Web site doesn’t mention this fact. It also doesn’t mention that these cells are, in all likelihood, going to be used to test how the new sweetener effects human kidneys, and not as part of the actual manufacturing process. Both of these facts underline an important truth about getting your information off the Internet: pay attention to who’s writing.

You see, the problem is, the ‘pro-life’ site didn’t lie in it’s story, but by not mentioning some things, and the way they worded their story, they produce a story that skates very close indeed to lying, without actually going over the line. It’s hardly a new thing. Organizations have been writing stories to make themselves look good, their opposition look bad, and generally fire up their base since, well, since people have been writing on such subjects.

That’s something important to remember, the next time you go surfing the Internet looking for the latest-and-greatest news story. Just because a site tells you something, and you want to believe what you’re reading, it might not be such a good idea to actually believe what that site says. Always be sure you look behind the curtain to make sure it really is a wizard who’s telling you the truth of the Universe, and not a fraud peddling their own version of “The Truth”.

Here ends the lesson.

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