“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Jesus of Nazareth.
“–as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.” Descartes in reference to his hypothetical ‘evil demon.’
“Those who jump to conclusions may go wrong.” Oedipus.
The Greeks, the Elizabethans, even M. Night Shyamalan used ignorance, and then Anagnorisis in their stories. Characters trudge forward in certainty of their understanding, then find out crucial facts about their reality after it is too late to act accordingly. If only they hadn’t been so headstrong, hadn’t made such a fatal error.
Tragedies used to humble man: force him to admit he might not have all of the facts. If he went on in his Hubris, things could go very wrong for him. Better to measure twice, cut once: not go too far with things: admit he could be proven wrong even when he thinks all of the facts are on his side.
But that was the barbaric past. We modern men have science. We have statistics: good people on the ground getting all of the facts. Our political analysts are working from the best intel. Our psychologists and sociologists have mapped every inch of the human animal and know what it’s thinking–what it needs–in all situations. We’ve done studies and aggregated the data. We know what’s best and we have search algorithms to help us find all those best things we know. There’s no stopping us now.
In the information age, we have more facts at our fingertips than at any previous point in history. We can make informed decisions. House? Zillow it. Random fact? Google it. Want to learn Calculus? Kahn Academy. What’s that ex doing? Facebook her. Where are you going? Google Maps will tell you.
But where are you going? Where are YOU going?
Is it the right way? How do you know? Is it because all of the information you need on the subject is obtainable? Obtainable does not equal Obtained. The entire universe of human knowledge could be floating around on the internet still most of us must admit that we’re running mad-idiot circles around a few small planets within that universe.
I would argue that the choices we make have more to do with which pieces of information that have been presented to us most persistently: not on our rational mind interacting with the full range of facts. In the information age, it is not information that holds sway. Curation and narrative shaping are the true powers and they are larger determiners of our actions.
Has it occurred to you that Google, Facebook, and all of the other famous sites are not moving the information that you request toward you? They are moving you toward the information they’ve been requested to move you toward. More importantly, YOU are the primary information of which they are curators. They package you and sell you to the companies that truly set the clocks of the so called information age.
Within this context, do you think you will obtain the important information that you need? That you are different and will enter the better search terms, find the better websites to get ahead of your neighbor in the great information race? You’re in a traffic jam going from one preplanned stop-off to the next. You might just be Oedipus deciding on which necklace to buy his wife for their anniversary.