Falsehoods, Fabrications, Fictions

the cost of negligence

It’s not surprising that we get fed hundreds of ideas throughout our lives that are complete foowie. Urban myths, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Friend of a Friend stories, sugar makes kids hyper, the old lady, her dog and the microwave, and countless more specious stories and misunderstanding of facts get passed around. Without any further exmination that foowie becomes accepted as true. The weird part is, later should the truth be presented, the new information is reject not the old. Old notions are a devil to overturn, especially when they’re commonly held as part of the cultural mindset. There are more examples of this than I’m going to bore you with. Why new information is doubted without questioning the veracity of the old is puzzling. Why our brains didn’t question the first idea before accepting it is the first step in fooling ourselves. Why we don’t furrow our brows when presented with any claim to truth, and follow up with a search for corroborating evidence, is the big question.

This problem is compounded by the flush of information readily available to us only a few clicks away on the internet. So much information, easily accessed, mostly free, and purportedly authoritative, sets us up for trouble. Search engines seemingly help by sorting through millions of possible sources. Since there is no card catalog nor index, we rely, instead, on computer algorithms written and rewritten, amended and remodeled, by fallible humans to pull up relevant pages. These searches are not completely neutral, though, and never select for accuracy or quality. They are strongly steered by commercial concerns. Equally incredible, they even filter based on your past interests, which superficially may appear beneficial, but as often as not, will return redundant or homogenous information—just the opposite of what the plethora and variety of the internet offers, and counteracting its greatest benefit : superabundance. We are being cheated—again. And again, it’s a reminder that the burden is on each of us, individually, to question, scrutinize, and validate, not just slurp up the first thing that comes along. And again, it’s a reminder that the burden is on each of us to pass on to others only information that’s been carefully scrutinized and validated.

It’s bewildering the way lazy thought processes allow early information to calcify and block out new contradictory data. When I’m confronted with a contrarian idea, it gets me started. I first question my assumptions and what I already think I know. If I’m wrong, I want to correct my misunderstanding. I look for confirmation and substantiation on both sides. I look for the greater quantity and quality of support. I want the truth, not assumptions; the facts, not beliefs; the reality, not common opinions.

The Information Age presents society with a huge challenge. No one person can possibly know much of anything outside their own highly specialized field. Think about what that means. We are more than ever dependent on what others know. Conversely, as individuals we are more than ever accountable for what we say and pass on. We are heavily reliant on the accuracy of what’s being disseminated through all channels of communication. We can no longer ignore or allow the exploitation of others’ ignorance, nor our own ignorance. Blaming people for not knowing is inexcusable. The oldest sales technique in the book turns the buyer’s innocence against him or her. One can’t know enough to make a relatively simple decision, such as buying a toaster. Companies, salespersons, websites, or advertisers that take advantage of one’s lack of knowledge are reprehensible and negligent. This is your world. Make it one you want to live in. Spread the truth; Expose the lies.

Read part 1 [Based on Science : the cost of ignorance]

Listen to the podcast from TTBOOK : [Lies That Last]
Follow it with : [Pranks and Hoaxes]
Give this a gander, especially the Cathouse for Dogs from 1976 : [Hoax Artist]
And listen to this : [Web of Doubt]

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