Friday, January 28, 2011

Growing Stupid

With tens of thousands of new books published each year in the United States alone (not to mention other sources of information--but let's concentrate on books for this example), the information encountered by each of us dwindles towards insignificance when measured against the whole.  Even if we could read and understand one book a day, we would be reading not even 400 books a year, just one percent of what used to be the estimated number of books published in America in a year.  Even if, as Sturgeon's Law claims, 90% of everything is crud, that leaves us having examined only one-tenth of the good stuff--if we had a way of determining what's good and what's not before picking any book up.  Now add all of the other sources generating information.  The total is overwhelming, much more than any one of us can sort through.

In other words, none of us can encompass any but a very small part of just the new information presented each year--let alone that accumulated in the past.  Let alone evaluate it; let alone understand it.  We have to rely on others, or on externals, to tell us if the information we sort through is worth a serious look or not.  We have to listen to others to learn to critically examine what we are finding.  And we need time to really think about what we have found, if we are going to make any real sense of it.

We have to be educated before we even approach the information before us.

Otherwise, we end up saying things like this:

Access to information is not the same as knowledge, but we've begun to think that a Google search is as good as studying and learning... that the machines have done all of this for us.

There's even a school district in Florida that seems to think it can do away with teachers in certain instances.  And a growing number of people seem to agree.

Only a growing amount of 'stupid' will result.

1 comment:

Kairos said...

And that is a huge problem indeed; coping up with this flood of information and data —not to mention the invalidity of some of the fetched data— proposes some major difficulties.
The world is moving fast, too fast for mankind to bear; this shall lead to more specialization, which in turn leads to more fragmentation.
Man —each— should stick to the basics, the valid sciences, and then adds up to his knowledge one brick at a time —no rush—; it seems that it has become impossible for one to know everything that goes in the world even if it's already known! None the less, one brick at a time; you may not end up with a fully built house, but it's a dwelling place eventually.