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Thursday, September 20, 2012
Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation
From Newsline from an anonymous contributor: ========================================================================= Parney - Part I =================================================================================== Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation LLNL Newsline - 09/19/2012 ==================================================================================== I'd like to take a little time to discuss a subject that is a bit different from the usual fare, and I think important. The Lab has many attributes. It is the place where some of the most talented people on the planet work in service to the nation. It is the home to many unique, best-in-the-world capabilities. It is a place with a long history of accomplishment, and of advances yet to come. It is also a collection of diverse people, a dynamic social web of interactions - with each other and with the world in which we are embedded. Hence, all the trappings of being human are part of this place. As many of you probably know, there are some external websites that are open fora for commenting on this Lab and also on LANL and our government sponsors. Sometimes the postings are unintentionally funny in the level of misinformation or convoluted logic. One site that is ostensibly devoted to LLNL is, in fact, more often than not focused on issues at LANL; as one observant poster noted there, no matter what the initial topic, the discussion quickly collapses, generally along a convoluted path, into a negative comment on Bechtel or one of the other partners and/or the LANL senior management. Other pieces of misinformation that show up once in a while are that Lab directors make million-dollar salaries (I wish!) or that LLNS and LANS somehow get more "profit" by reducing costs (umm, wrong). As you can probably surmise, I read these sites on occasion, in large part because I have (as those of you who know me will verify) a pretty perverse sense of humor, a trait probably acquired in an upbringing in the DC suburbs where there were ample opportunities to laugh at people saying stupid things. Most of the time, these posts are harmless albeit uninformed. Lately, however, some have become harmful and destructive if taken seriously. For example, one poster stated baldly that he/she had seen with his/her own eyes a PAD escorted off the Lab site by security, and that he/she knew for certain that the PAD was getting fired. That post engendered a whole raft of poisonous rumors, exacerbated by the fact that the manager in question was off site for personal reasons for several days. The rumor was completely false, made up out of whole cloth, for motives unknown. Other examples have cropped up recently. Sometimes these things get sufficient momentum to get picked up by the local press, who either try to get a comment from me (I can't respond to every rumor, nor should I give these "sources" any credibility) or even, if the newspaper is very poorly edited, make reference to them in print. When these things happen, they affect not just the Lab or the individual but also their families, who endure questioning at the grocery store, their place of worship, or the schoolhouse. They affect us all. The anonymous assertion of falsehoods in public fora or social networks is a fact of life these days, but it is supremely nasty and hurtful.
By scooby at September 20, 2012
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