Opinion

Editorial: Information overload

If there is an emerging theme to the 2010s, it is that many basic assumptions – no matter how cherished or long-held – are no longer enough to support our decision-making.

We are faced with issues of such magnitude, whether globally (climate change, radioactive contamination from Fukushima, for example) – or locally (the presumed and actual support of the Northern Gateway pipeline) that we can’t afford to trust the old simplistic, assumption-based arguments anymore.

The downside of the information explosion of the past few decades has been information overload – and this has not been ignored by those, whatever their political stripe, who have motives to coax us in one direction or another.

Pseudo-facts can be cobbled from elements of the truth and tailored to fit all our pre-existing assumptions, and the combined result can be promulgated endlessly across the Internet, not just in a matter of hours, but in seconds.

Instead of some basic, underlying incontrovertible truth (possibly our most dangerous assumption), we are too often left only with an impression of truth, geared to our emotions and fueled by scads of lobbying dollars.

Our responsibility, no matter how we wish to shirk it, is to stay informed and examine, critically, evidence from all sides of the issues.

Faced with information overload, the human animal has two basic responses. One is to shut off critical thinking altogether and go with the opinions of whomever we’re told is to be trusted.

The other is to dig in the heels and resist, kicking and screaming, any attempt to drag us into the future – no matter how much in our best interests it may be.

Neither of these reactions will serve us well in the long run.

- Black Press

 

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