Ignorance And False Knowledge
I am not ashamed to confess I am ignorant of what I do not know. Cicero
When information became so important, we called it the Information Age. When information became an explosion, we called it Information Glut. So much attention to data, facts and information has led to the spread of misinformation, false and inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.
But false and inaccurate information is not new. For example, propaganda has been practiced forever. Definition: the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or information reflecting the views of its propagators; indoctrination or misteaching. In 2005 Stephen Colbert reintroduced the word “truthiness” and it was named the word of the year. He said the word meant, the quality of a thing feeling true without any evidence suggesting it actually was. We’re talking about something that seems like truth — the truth we want to exist. In 2008, Damian Thompson published the book, Counterknowledge, which he defined as misinformation packaged to look like fact. It runs contrary to real knowledge and has some social currency. This year U.S. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, when pressed during the interview to explain why Press Secretary Spicer uttered a provable falsehood, stated that Spicer was giving “alternative facts.” Backing up false statements with alternative facts, is voicing alternatives to facts; fictions or lies. What’s next?
Propaganda has always been legitimate in war, and misinformation legitimate in politics.By definition, both are intended to deceive. So are counterknowledge, truthiness and alternative facts. Although I cannot say that today we are having more misinformation than information, I can say it certainty feels like it.
Misinformation is a falsehood and could be called “false information”, leading to false knowledge (knowledge of something false). The problem today is trying to know the difference between someone saying a falsehood to deceive you (misinformation) and someone saying a falsehood because they believe it is true (false knowkedge). This false knowledge is like a false belief or an illusion. Or it could be the result of ignorance, the condition of being uneducated, unaware or uninformed.
But today ignorance doesn’t seem to be the problem. A lot of today’s false knowledge is coming from well-educated, highly informed people in significant, influential positions. This kind of influence may be a dangerous obstacle to our ability to create a positive future for America. Ignorance is not knowing the truth; false knowledge is “knowing” what isn’t true.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. George Bernard Shaw
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Daniel J. Boorstin