THE AGE OF OPINION

Supported By The Illusion of Knowledge

The difference between information, knowledge and opinion is blurred.

I believe we are leaving the age of information and moving into the age of opinion. The age of information has become information glut, when so much information is available that people are unable to easily convert it to knowledge, or even process it all. This leads to a condition when so much information doesn’t tell us what we want or need to know — and people have a need to know. The more we know the more we realize we don’t know. More information produces more knowledge and less knowledge. The most educated person in the world now has to admit that he or she knows less and less, but at least knows less and less about more and more. Christopher Hitchens

So what do we do? When we want to know something and don’t know it, we make it up. This making it up is called the illusion of knowledge. This leads to misinformation — inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally, and to disinformation — inaccurate information that is spread intentionally, also called black propaganda. In the age of information, more information means more uncertainty. In the age of opinion, the illusion of knowledge eliminates uncertainty; to know corresponds with certainty and feels good.

Opinion can be more powerful than factual information. We now know that information doesn’t usually change opinion; facts don’t often change beliefs. A falsehood skillfully presented and repeated often, can influence people’s view of reality. The age of opinion is dramatically changing social and political discourse.

Today, the world has become so complex and so interconnected that it is not possible to know all the complexity and interconnectedness. More information can’t solve this dilemma. The greatest obstacle to knowing is not ignorance or too much information but the illusion of knowledge. We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so pervasive, so “realistic’ that they can live in them. Daniel Boorstin

The greatest need in our current high tech, free speech, participatory democracy may be an effective immune system to misinformation and disinformation. Can the media in our democracy provide a reliable source of comprehensive, holistic, accurate, unbiased, up-to-date information? 

I know you can’t predict the future, but what are your assumptions and why are they your assumptions?

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5 Responses to THE AGE OF OPINION

  1. Gene Unger says:

    No , the media cannot! Data, information . What is the difference ? Knowledge, the positive use of information. Who takes time to learn enough,well enough to act with knowledge. Our media is full of opinion and very little truth. Often one can be lazy and take it all as truth. Add greed and the opinions become more clouded and less truthful. People in power have become addicted to “spin” talk. Truth is further clouded. What to do? I try not to take a ” data/ opinion swims” as much as possible. What is truth for me may be different for you. Blah blah blah. As little as possible. God is my guide. Jesus is my filter. And so it goes. This is my belief system. Thou shall not be foolish, walk as Jesus walked is my mantra. Keep it simple. There is happiness and truth in simplicity. ” there is danger in many books” KSS never seemed more relevant Great writing my friend. Gene Sent from my iPad

  2. John Krumboltz says:

    Hi HB– I am not sure that I can buy the proposition that information is worse now than it used to be. We used to have libraries stacked with books very few of which I have read. Now we have Google and Siri who will answer almost any question I ask and many others that I don’t ask. I don’t think that the truth is any more clouded now than it used to be. It is all just more easily available now than it used to be. That makes it more difficult to keep up with the oodles of info. So it seems that we know less now. We knew very little years ago, but we didn’t know then how much there was to be known.

  3. hbgelatt says:

    Thanks John for the response.
    My proposition is not that information is “worse”, but that there is so much more of it that it is more unreliable.
    I believe with so much more misinformation and disinformation that truth is more ‘clouded.”
    H B

  4. lyon says:

    Hi HB, Interesting, but I don’t think most people make stuff up when that don’t know something. I, and I think others, look it up on the internet. Hi to Carol. We saw Anne Anderson last week for what turned out to be a great visit. She’s in hospice again, but seemed in very good shape to us. Cheers, Beth

    Ron & Beth Lyon Prof. Emeritus, lyon@stanford.edu

    Beth: NEW Cell 650-796-5077

    Ron: NEW Cell 650-619-8305

  5. hbgelatt says:

    Good point Beth. I agree that most people when they don’t know something either
    make it up or look it up (internet, TV, newspaper, radio, friends, experts).
    I wonder which of those sources is most reliable?

    H B

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