Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Knowledge & Subjective Reality

I am a firm believer in free & open knowledge, and I'm against censorship in almost any form. I also think that the Internet is obviously one of the greatest creations in human history.

However, these ideals are not without their dangers. Despite the promise of unlimited knowledge through a worldwide digital network, we are now seeing a phenomenon that others have warned about...

Instead of expanding everyone's perspective, the Internet is becoming a bottleneck of limited information for many people. People are accessing websites and resources that only confirm their existing worldview. This has become apparent over this last election cycle, in which different parties and groups stuck to sources of news and info that reinforced what they already believe, no matter how inaccurate.

In a year that gave us "fake news" and even a fake U.S. President, the power of knowledge is becoming only as powerful as the belief in that knowledge, for any particular individual or group. Objective facts are proving impervious to the ignorant minds that refuse to accept them.

What this means for the future of society and the knowledge we share is anyone's guess. Companies like Facebook and Google are trying to address this issue, by flagging questionable sources and adjusting algorithms.

This does not solve the fundamental situation that if people are truly free, they are also free to be wrong and misinformed. Short of creating a "Ministry of Truth", there is nothing that we can do to force anyone to accept an objective observation or basic fact. We are now in an Einsteinian world of knowledge- where truth is relative, and misinformation can travel at the speed of light.

In a post-factual America now being led by Trump™-brand propaganda and outright lies, the potential damage that could be done is tremendous. It is up to anyone who values objective reasoning and observable truth to recognize & argue against provable falsehoods. We have a tough fight ahead of us.

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