May 29 2009

Western Culture as a whole, is deeply, deeply contradictory!

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I was reading something another blogger wrote about items in the news, and he made the statement that titles this article. And as I thought about it, it struck me that part of the problem is the Internet.

Consider the above graph. As the amount of information needed to make decisions increases, it gets increasingly hard to make informed choices that benefit us. At best we can make a decision that doesn't ruin our lives. But the more that media and dis-information muddy the informational waters then you have more and more information to pour through to make your choices. There are a lot of people spreading just plain wrong information. They do it from ignorance, malice, dogma, or to serve an agenda. But the fact remains that in order to make a choice you need information.

The Internet has opened us up to a wide range of informational choices. But even those sources can and should be suspect. Cross-checking your facts, validating sources, and a healthy dose of skepticism is required. Today, Wikipedia blocked an entire organization from editing because they were promoting their own agenda within Wikipedia.

Back when I was growing up we had the library, the press (newspapers, TV, magazines, etc.) and our parents to use as information sources. Anything the parents didn't know was referred to the home library ("look it up") or the public library. From there you could search books (via the card catalog) and current periodicals or if you could use a periodicals index the back issues of the press. There was no guarantee that the information you got was any more reliable than the stuff you can find today (okay, maybe a bit more assurance), but there was a ton less of it.

Now, facts and opinion are presented with equal validity (this article is my OPINION, in case there is any doubt here. I've done no research and I'm not an expert). The addition of a graph or a few links should not constitute any assertion of truth. And yet, it does. Things "feel" right. Truths "seem to make sense". But they should not, and cannot be accepted as facts.

I suppose the point I am making is that the proliferation of information makes the curve a lot steeper which increases the area of the neutral to really bad choices over the good choices on the above graph. And it'll only get worse unless we can find a way to seperate the facts from the opinions.