Debate and Discussion

Science Vs Ignorance
ozoneocean at 10:00AM, Dec. 7, 2009
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This debate is often miss-characterised as a battle between “religion and science”, such has never truly been the case, and can only really be framed that way by those who lack a full understanding of both.

In reality science is in a constant struggle against ignorance.

Why does ignorance battle on?
There are often cultural and psychological reasons. Excellent examples of this struggle in action are things like the push by scientists in the united Kingdom to decriminalise narcotics- Socially that policy is unacceptable, even though logically and scientifically it makes sense. Ignorance in the wider community about the science involved is a major reason for the opposition.

Another sterling example are creationists. Their's is a view without logic or any scientific support, even without support form the hierarchies of the world's mainstream religious groups, and yet the belief is maintained by a few because the alternative (to them) is culturally unacceptable.

The prime example of our current age however would have to be the issue of anthropogenic climate change: human influenced global warming. The heavy weight of expert scientific analysis is clear, most of the world is behind it, and yet ignorance finds purchase. For various cultural, social, and psychological reasons there is a core of denial, centered mainly in some areas of the U.S.

Funnily enough, the main core of the creationist argument is also centered in the United States…
But be that as but may, Ignorance Vs Science seems to be an important struggle for our time, and one that can be lost. It's important that we see these issues for what they are.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:35PM
Hawk at 11:05AM, Dec. 7, 2009
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ozoneocean
This debate is often miss-characterised as a battle between “religion and science”

I was going to count how many posts were made before this thread turned into that discussion, but I didn't even get clear through the original post before it happened. And I'm not sure why the United States' involvement is such a key feature to you.

But to try to steer it away from the inevitable, I say that science will battle with ignorance for as long as there are things that science cannot yet explain. You might even be able to define ignorance as “the lack of science”.

But if you're going to use the issue of global warming, the answer may very well be that there is a certain contingency of scientists providing information to the contrary of the vast majority of scientists. So in that case it's not “science vs. ignorance” but “science vs. false science”. Do you define ignorance as not knowing, or is believing a lie just as appropriate?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
kyupol at 11:39AM, Dec. 7, 2009
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In reality science is in a constant struggle against ignorance.

Tell that to Al Gore and his climate “scientists”.

The prime example of our current age however would have to be the issue of anthropogenic climate change: human influenced global warming. The heavy weight of expert scientific analysis is clear, most of the world is behind it, and yet ignorance finds purchase. For various cultural, social, and psychological reasons there is a core of denial, centered mainly in some areas of the U.S.

google "CLIMATEGATE". And see for yourself how so-called global warming scientists manipulated the data to fit their own agenda which is carbon taxes and population reduction.

Man-made global warming is yet another religious cult.



NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
imshard at 12:42PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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This thread made me lol.

I'd be more than happy to discuss the merits of scientific growth versus stagnant knowledge and blind jingoism, but something in the flavor of the first post makes this taste like another USA and/or global warming bashing thread. I'm not exactly keen to go there.

As for the titled question? I've always maintained that most people simply prefer to adopt their views from someone else. Namely because its easier and encouraged by social pressures. The arguments seem to come in not necessarily where one view is right or wrong, but who you choose to trust and believe based off your own inclinations and upbringing.
Don't be a stick in the mud traditionalist! Support global warming!

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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
shirkersama at 3:20PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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Hawk
I say that science will battle with ignorance for as long as there are things that science cannot yet explain
You seem to be implying that scientists will eventually be able to explain everything. I highly doubt this will ever be the case because as science progresses it constantly raises new questions.
Meh
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:34PM
Hawk at 3:54PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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shirkersama
Hawk
I say that science will battle with ignorance for as long as there are things that science cannot yet explain
You seem to be implying that scientists will eventually be able to explain everything. I highly doubt this will ever be the case because as science progresses it constantly raises new questions.

I imply no such thing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
isukun at 4:21PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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Here's a nice video about “Climategate”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

It's another example of uneducated conservatives picking apart something they don't uderstand for any semblence of contraversy they can find, even if it means taking things out of conext and twisting people's words to “prove” they're right. If anything, it's a perfect example of “Science vs. Ignorance”.
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kyupol at 4:32PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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As for the titled question? I've always maintained that most people simply prefer to adopt their views from someone else. Namely because its easier and encouraged by social pressures. The arguments seem to come in not necessarily where one view is right or wrong, but who you choose to trust and believe based off your own inclinations and upbringing.

Also don't forget the use of various mind-manipulation techniques.

Read Edward Bernays, Richard Bandler, Milton Erickson, etc.

You seem to be implying that scientists will eventually be able to explain everything.

Probably, science will be able to explain MOST THINGS (not everything) but not in our lifetime. And as long as the following things exist:

1) Close-minded scientists who ignore any data that conflicts with their theory.

2) A separation of spirituality and science. Today though, spirituality and science is somewhat combined in alternative medical fields like energy healing, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, sound vibration healing, some forms of psychotherapy, etc.

NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
shirkersama at 6:22PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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Hawk
shirkersama
Hawk
I say that science will battle with ignorance for as long as there are things that science cannot yet explain
You seem to be implying that scientists will eventually be able to explain everything. I highly doubt this will ever be the case because as science progresses it constantly raises new questions.

I imply no such thing.

I apologize for the mistake then, just how it seemed when I read it.
Meh
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:34PM
Ronson at 6:23PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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We are all (scientists included) ignorant of most things. We have our knowledge compartmentalized into specialties that we are knowledgable of. To fill the the gap between what we know and what we don't know, we turn to experts in the fields we're interested in.

If it's science and reality, we embrace science. If it's comfort, we embrace religion or spiritualism.

But we should remember that while science surely will never answer anything, no other information source has come close to answering - in any honest way - as much.

Religion, spiritualism, conspiracy theories all fit comfortably in the heads that welcome them, but are all easily doubted by those that don't find them comfortable. Science, on the other hand has led to cars, computers and phones which everyone finds useful and comfortable (though some claim they would give them up in a second for the alleged “simple life”).

Science is a material comfort to our real world. Spiritualism and religion are only useful for those who want to believe them…which is fine as far as it goes.

As for ignorance, I'm ignorant about a great many things, and doubt there are too many people who are not. The topic might be better coined as “science vs. ignorance of science” to have an actual meaning.
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ozoneocean at 8:48PM, Dec. 7, 2009
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Hah, interesting how some people seem to zero on on the climate change issue. That was simply an example of where one side that could broadly be represented as “ignorance” is in direct opposition to not only the the weight of world scientific opinion but also any advances or research in that area. -It's an example, not the argument.

It's also not U.S. bashing; there is a critical and significant point though that the chief movements for both creationism and climate change denial are strongly centered in the U.S.- an advanced, wealthy country with good standards of living and a fairly high level of education. What we can infer by that IS NOT that the U.S. has any problem with ignorance (since such movements can spring from anywhere), it's that wealth, education, and high living standards are no defense against it.
Another example of this problem would be the suppression of AIDS research and medice in South Africa under the former Mbeki led ANC government. In that instance you could claim that “ignorance” could have had some correlation with a lower living standard, poverty, lower education levels etc, but with the example of the U.S.A. with creationism and climate change denial we know this not to be the case.

@Ronson -The reason why I framed this topic in the way I did was that “science VS Religion” in any formulation is a false dichotomy, ultimately harmful to the understanding of both. They are not alike, opposite, or mutually exclusive.
Science is progress through active questioning of what we know and then building upon it. It's not reality, it's just a process.
 
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isukun at 12:45AM, Dec. 8, 2009
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I only responded to kyupol's topic because he seems to have a very backwards notion of who stands to benefit the most in that argument. It is a classic example of willful ignorance. I think in that particular case, Ronson has a point and people like kyupol latch onto these ideas because it fits their global views. They aren't comfortable without the sinister conspiracies, no matter how illogical their connections may be.

The case of global climate change is an interesting one, though, since it is one of those cases where it isn't just a factor of people trying to maintain a particular belief by twisting or misinterpreting reality. It is more like the tobacco industry and their fight against the medical community regarding the harmful effects of smoking. The industries who fund the studies which create the misinformation know full well the results of government and independent studies, but need to convince the public otherwise to maintain the status quo. They KNOW they are wrong and still mislead people.
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El Cid at 2:40PM, Dec. 8, 2009
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I'm not sure that “science vs. ignorance” is the right title for this thread. It's more than a little bit conceited to just assume that because somebody has different opinions than you it's because they somehow just don't “get” something and need to be educated, and generally I don't find this to be the case. Most creationists I've chatted with tend to be privy to the same information on evolution that I am, and often know more about evolutionary science than I'd expect the average layperson to know. They have the same data; they've just reached a different conclusion. Ignorance is not the proper term.

And also the examples mentioned in the OP are not all quantitative decisions. Drug legalization for example is absolutely not a matter of mere number-crunching. Regardless of what studies say about social benefits and addiction rates and all that other jazz, some people just don't want to live in a society where people can go to the corner store and pick up a bag of weed along with their coffee and newspaper. Why not crack and heroin as well? Research and data does not make our decisions for us. At best it can only help us get a better idea as to the dimensions of what we're dealing with, but it's up to us as individuals to process that and decide how we feel about it.
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ozoneocean at 7:16PM, Dec. 8, 2009
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@Isukun-
Good points there. Vested interests work to undermine science and maintain and extend ignorance. The tobacco companies are a very good example and a great analogue for what the petrochemical industry and agriculture lobbies do with climate change.

@El Cid. There's no conceit, but that's an interesting characterisation. ;)
This isn't about not “getting” things, it's about situations where the weight of research is firmly behind a position and yet for some reason there is a holdout that resists in the face of science and logic. What's interesting is to work out why.
Creationism is a very obvious example, but the recommendation to decriminalise narcotics in the UK is less obvious. The recommendations were by the top government scientific authority on the matter, and it did NOT just concern cannabis. The recommendations were so flatly rejected by the government that the official concerned publicly resigned in protest (which caused a great stir). He was also supported by the top non-government experts in that field.
That wasn't a matter of “number crunching”, the exhaustive studies that were used to arrive at the recommendations went into the medical, psychological and social aspects thoroughly. -As you should expect.
However, The current U.K> government, although left wing, is right leaning and on the way out. The policies were viewed as too radical and dangerous for their electorate- in the mistaken belief that acting conservatively in regards to such things will prevent them losing office to the conservative party during the next election. (They will lose regardless).
 
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Atom Apple at 7:50PM, Dec. 8, 2009
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Creationism and evolution are two completely separate things. Creationism is the belief simply that a God created living beings. It does not necessarily mean he created everything ever in it's current form, though the majority who believe it also believe that. Evolution doesn't show how life started, merely how life changed to it's current state. Therefore the two could both be true at the same time.
i will also like to know you the more
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ozoneocean at 8:12PM, Dec. 8, 2009
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@Atom- I think you're talking more about “creation” than creationism. “Creationism” is the para-religious doctrine supported by a minority of very conservative Christians. It consists of a very narrow interpretation of the idea of “creation”, supported by an extremely literal reading of the book of Genesis. While “Creation” is just a general tenet of Christianity, which is interpreted a number of ways.

“Creation” and “Creationism” are separate things :)
 
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xerjester at 8:42PM, Dec. 8, 2009
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Hoorah Intelligent Design.

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Atom Apple at 1:59PM, Dec. 9, 2009
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ozoneocean
“Creation” and “Creationism” are separate things :)

Oh okay. I can't keep up with the lingo.
i will also like to know you the more
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bravo1102 at 11:04PM, Dec. 10, 2009
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ozoneocean
@Atom- I think you're talking more about “creation” than creationism. “Creationism” is the para-religious doctrine supported by a minority of very conservative Christians. It consists of a very narrow interpretation of the idea of “creation”, supported by an extremely literal reading of the book of Genesis. While “Creation” is just a general tenet of Christianity, which is interpreted a number of ways.

“Creation” and “Creationism” are separate things :)

According to the most recent numbers Creationism is supported by the majority of Americans. Young Earth Creationism (Earth is 10,000-6000 years old)is supported by a significant minority.

A minority of Americans believe that humans were created by God and did not evolve from simpler forms. However it becomes a majority if you throw the word “monkey” or “ape” in there.

The USA is unique among “First World” nations not only in not having so-called “socialized” medicine but the USA also has a majority not believing proven biological science. And now Americans are allowing their scienitific ignorance to shift their belief in climate change from Al Gore's faith to Rush Limbaugh's doubt. It all depends on who is screaming loudest and longest at the time.

Rush Limbaugh is also a young earth Creationist.( as are the majority of Right wing talk show types; Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Anne Coulter etc.) They shout loudest and longest (those 20 million+ listeners? The great majority are adults who make certain the next generation doesn't learn anything about Godless(see Anne Coulter's book of the same name) evolutionism)

The view isn't so cheery here in the trenches as it may look to Red-tab REMF types. Ever try to teach Human pre-history to a classroom full of Baptists?

To explain: Evangelical Christians are usually Baptists (hence the term born-again), evangelical Christianity is fundamentalist Christianity and grew out of the books “The Fundamentals” published at the turn of the 20th Century which also started the modern Creationist movement. This is all well documented. You can't ignore the history of this stuff when looking at willful ignorance.
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da_kasha at 7:00AM, Dec. 22, 2009
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I think it’s as important to know who exactly is presenting the argument to you as what the argument is. As in not just their background motives but whether they understand the science themselves. I’m not sure if anybody mentioned this and ozone seemed to be talking mainly about the public’s ignorance.

Some things are clearer cut than others after all and I wouldn’t say climate change and drug decriminalisation are very cleanly cut. Politicians and journalists aren’t scientists after all and I’d think the mental approach to those professions would be quite different. Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised that when presented with an argument they would misunderstand its meaning and/or fail to see all the factors.

Taking climate change as the example since it seems to be a) more pressing at the moment and b) the more ambiguous one for me. What’s the popular theory again? Fossil fuels are burnt releasing CO2 which acts like a greenhouse gas trapping in the sun’s rays and the earth warms up. It’s very convincing, easy to understand and it’s what they always talk about. But is it right? Is it the full picture? I highly doubt that, things are rarely that simple in science. Not only are there trillions of animals at this moment producing CO2 and methane and what not but plants that absorb that very CO2. And how do you know the way our atmosphere works? Added to that where I live used to be under a glacier 10,000 years ago - the climate has been shifting for as long as there WAS a climate.

The whole issue is loaded with so much political weight (and the way journalists go about blaming every little thing on climate change) makes me very sceptical that we’re getting the correct picture. But this is more of an attempt to elaborate on the “Ignorance Vs Science” debate than bash climate change.
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mlai at 7:44PM, Dec. 22, 2009
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El Cid
Most creationists I've chatted with tend to be privy to the same information on evolution that I am, and often know more about evolutionary science than I'd expect the average layperson to know. They have the same data; they've just reached a different conclusion.
It's a different process for the “knowledgeable” creationists. They're not informed in the pursuit of knowledge; they inform themselves in order to prove something that they've already told themselve is true, and the knowledge they garner is solely used in the formulation of talking points that they can use against the scientist in an unscientific/popular debate.

When you look at new information not in an analytical way, it's not really a genuine scientific process. There is no true scientific discipline out there whose only aim i to “disprove” something without trying to offer anything better in return. "God must have done it" is not a valid replacement.

some people just don't want to live in a society where people can go to the corner store and pick up a bag of weed along with their alcohol and tobacco. Why not crack and heroin as well?
Fixed it for you.

Why are those okay, but not marijuana? Have you read up on the research of how addictive tobacco is? How about alcohol predisposing people to violence? Never heard weed do that.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
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isukun at 1:33PM, Dec. 23, 2009
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How about alcohol predisposing people to violence? Never heard weed do that.

Haven't you ever seen Reefer Madness?
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mlai at 10:14PM, Dec. 23, 2009
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Ah, I missed that one when I was in college.

Dunno how, since my floor completely stank of weed, and my floormates love MST3000-type movies.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
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cartoonprofessor at 1:09PM, Dec. 28, 2009
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imshard
As for the titled question? I've always maintained that most people simply prefer to adopt their views from someone else. Namely because its easier and encouraged by social pressures.

Right on the ball, Imshard…

Thinking takes effort.

Unfortunately the vast majority of modern humans find it far easier to simply ‘adopt’ another's point of view (usually one parroted by the mainstream media or their church ‘leaders’ over and over) than to think things through themselves and come to an informed, intelligent opinion.

Not only is doing so easier, but it absolves one from any responsibility if their choice is shown to be wrong. (not to mention avoiding being a social pariah because they are questioning the staus quo… Kyupol is an example of this)

In my opinion, the vast majority of social and personal ills stem from an inability to be responsible for one's own individual actions and decisions. This is why the ‘victim’ mentality is so prevelant today.

“It's not my fault! The TV (or preacher) made me think that way!”
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isukun at 4:42PM, Dec. 28, 2009
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Unfortunately the vast majority of modern humans find it far easier to simply ‘adopt’ another's point of view (usually one parroted by the mainstream media or their church ‘leaders’ over and over) than to think things through themselves and come to an informed, intelligent opinion.

We live in the information age and it has become increasigly hard to think everything through without using information that's tainted by others. Our understanding of the physical world and society is too advanced these days to do research on everything. Our only alternative is to assume people who claimt o be experts in a particular field know what they are doing and can inform us on how to think. Unfortunately, those experts don't always do the research and often prefer to infer things, make assumptions, or twist facts to present a “truth” that doesn't reflect reality.

This is actually something you can see a lot of in these forums. People love to link to government sponsored foundations, publicly run and maintained sites like wikipedia, or news sites and all are going to be skewed by some bias.

not to mention avoiding being a social pariah because they are questioning the staus quo… Kyupol is an example of this

Not really. Kyupol pretty much does the same thing where he gets his information and his opinions from other sources. That's why he always seems to have a Fox News video or other conservative source to back up all of his arguments.
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cartoonprofessor at 4:48AM, Dec. 29, 2009
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You're missing my point Isukun…

The reason Ignorance is so prevalent in this ‘information age’ is not because of information overload, it is because so many people allow others to do their thinking for them.

It is too easy to simply believe a point of view rather than stop and think it through logically using our own intellect.

Thinking takes effort and demands responsibility. If we do not think things through but take another's point of view, then we are not truly responsible for our actions/thoughts because they were never our own thoughts to begin with. By ‘following the crowd’ we are deferring responsibility.

If we thought things through ourselves, then we become responsible for the consequences of those thoughts… we are acting on our own conclusions based on our own intellect.

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Orin J Master at 9:46AM, Dec. 29, 2009
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cartoonprofessor
It is too easy to simply believe a point of view rather than stop and think it through logically using our own intellect.

this is also wrong. actually, this is a bit more wrong that iskun. the problem is that information is only useful to people that use deductive reasoning (which is more complex than logical reasoning) and very, VERY few people really learn that skill anymore.

as an example. you may have heard about israel attacking palistine. makes israel sound bad, but then you dig a bit deeper and find out that palistine fires rockets into israel. so it's a war. except that israel military is attacking palistine because of rockets fired by a splinter faction that's no longer part of the palistine government. so israel's simple making a poor decision to being attacked. but the reason this splinter group is firing rockets in because israel is illegally populating land it agreed belonged to palistine with colonists and then claiming the land as theirs anyways, so israel is actually invading pasitinian land and using the army to force the natives out for their expansion.

this isn't hard to actually figure out if you're willing to apply the right reasoning, but there's a rather large number of people that won't because they don't know how to single out actual facts and connect them. it's not a matter of logic, it's a matter of reason. ironically, CP, your responce is a pretty good example of giving an opinion as fact rather than figuring out what the actual problem is.
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isukun at 11:47AM, Dec. 29, 2009
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very, VERY few people really learn that skill anymore.

I would have to argue that very few people ever learned that skill. People simply buying in to whatever they are told rather than forming their own opinions on things isn't something new to this era. We just have a tendency to single out the standouts when we look back. The only real differences today is that people have more sources to choose from than they did in the past and people trust them for different reasons. They still aren't willing to pick apart the data they are given or expand and look at the other sides of that data, but because of the way that data is presented, everyone now thinks they have an informed opinion on everything.

And I would still have to say that information overload is still an issue. We are presented with more information on politics and global affairs than ever before. Most people simply don't have the time to analyze every piece of data they're given. Who really has the time to spend researching every aspect of politics and foreign affairs apart from people who work in politics and foreign affairs? People are going to choose particular news sources which reflect their own personal biases because it's faster and, to most people, better than not knowing anything at all.
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Orin J Master at 3:00PM, Dec. 29, 2009
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isukun
And I would still have to say that information overload is still an issue. People are going to choose particular news sources which reflect their own personal biases because it's faster and, to most people, better than not knowing anything at all.

those two facts aren't really related. it's like saying “We support the police because we don't want to be shot by robbers” it all sounds very nice, but A isn't directly related to B in any sense. people pick news that reflects their personal views because it make their worldview fit what they want. people will choose the fact the prefer out of 2,000 or just two, the amount of data isn't a factor.

picking the information because it supports your point of view isn't because someone's got too much to go through, it's because they're too lazy to actually figure it out and too self-important to admit when they don't really know what's going on.
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isukun at 4:37PM, Dec. 29, 2009
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those two facts aren't really related.

They're very related. How much critical thinking do you think was needed back in the Middle Ages when the only source of information for most people was the church and the only news that sprang up was usually rumors about what was happening in the next town? It isn't just a matter of people being too lazy to form their own opinions, we also have a lot more to form opinions about and easy access to all of the varying points of view on those issues.

People have an innate need to be informed and as our world view expands, so does the volume of knowledge we need to feel we truly have a grasp on things. Still, this is not a top priority for most people in the grand scheme of their lives. You average dentist is likely more interested in keeping up with the knowledge he needs for his profession than he is in researching dealings in Palestine. That doesn't mean he isn't interested in having some understanding of the situation and he will likely defend his point of view, even if it is just to quote whatever newspaper article he read about it, but he isn't going to spend nearly as much time on it as he would on things that actually effect his personal or professional life.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM

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