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Unlearning 2020: Part 3 – The Grand Paradox of the Information Age

Continued from Parts 1 and 2.  (Read them first.)

So, what’s the point of all this?

There’s a much larger point, but first let’s make a smaller (but very important) point …

The Grand Paradox of the Information Age

Let’s consider the first story …

If you can live two blocks from a major event and not even be aware it occurred … what else are you missing?

And how can you be so sure that the stories that are elevated in the news are the truly important ones?

Is there really any way you can know?

Consider this …

If you ask a Japanese person about the history of the Japanese occupation of Korea, you’ll get an entirely different story than the one you’d get from a native Korean.

If there can be competing histories, why can’t there be competing versions of “news?”

If you compare the “left wing” and the “right wing” press in the United States it’s easy to see there certainly can be.  Look at the “alternative press” and you’ll see the differences can become even more radical still.

Do you really know which news sources are to be trusted?

If you’re like most of us, you simply watch the sources that confirm your biases, and leave it at that.  It’s “normal”.  (Or, put another way … Cognitive Science has rendered a robust body of evidence to indicate this is our natural tendency.)

But if we’re all to be really intellectually honest with ourselves … we have to dig.

We need to go beyond the “news” (which is mostly just partisan commentary masquerading as journalism these days) and look at primary source documentation.

We need to attempt to disprove our biases rather than confirm them.

But who has the time?

After your full day of work, taking care of the kids, working out, etc … do you really have the time to dig deeply into what’s going on?  Can you watch congressional hearings directly?  Can you read court filings?  Can you examine the bills that congress passes?

Probably not.  And who could blame you?  We’re all like the lighthouse keepers on our own plots of land … far too busy to venture beyond our insulated lives …

So … we scan the headlines from our preferred sources.  Maybe watch a little commentary.  And this is our “reality.”

Let’s Put It All Together

Simply put …

1.  Our information sources are corrupted.

2.  We don’t have the time to dig.

3.  There are people actively working to “curate” our information to give us certain impressions of reality.  (We call this “history” and “journalism” … and we fall for it.)

Let that sink in.  If you really get the implications, it should be a “holy s***” moment.

What can we do about all of this?

That’s the topic of Part 4.

Meanwhile … any guesses?

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