I MUST STRAIGHTAWAY CONFESS THAT I suffer from what is termed as “information anxiety”. I have often felt “inadequate” and even “undernourished” if I cannot figure out the reasons behind a particular event that has occurred or for that matter when something remains elusive in connection with anything related to what I do at work. To add to my worry, I came across this nugget : 90 per cent of all data and information available in the world today was generated during the past couple of years or so ! The question of being “well-informed” is therefore a very ideal state – a mirage so to speak and this is a very humbling thought !
WE CANNOT EVEN BE SURE OF THE authenticity of the information that we come across. The spin doctors in our midst (be it in the media or elsewhere) throw information at us and, paraphrasing Noam Chomsky, “manufacture consent”. The decisions we take are largely dependent on “facts as presented to us” and even when one “googles” for information, all we get is what Google has in its repository or more correctly what its algorithms fetch for us. The absolute truth may never be reached. Although we have all the technologies on hand, the accurate recording and interpretation of history, contemporary or otherwise, largely depends on how objective the historians engaged in the task really are ! Much of the money that is made in the world today also depends on the degree of information one has in comparison to the next person although one may be imprisoned if one trades in price-sensitive information on stocks and shares that the market is unaware of !
HOW CAN ONE STAY WELL INFORMED ? Well, the answer is : one can only try. In performing our jobs a certain degree of knowledge and information awareness is certainly expected of us – otherwise we will not be in a position to execute our tasks well. A close ally of knowledge is skill and technique and this ultimately forms part of knowledge too, in the broadest sense. In order to survive, we do need to cultivate a healthy balance of trust and skepticism towards everything that we come across and, within reasonable limits, we should not lose the opportunity to question, validate, and check the veracity of the information we receive.
ONE WAKES UP EVERY MORNING and reaches for the newspaper. We do not often realize the extent of “behind-the-scenes-activity” that has determined the placement of news on the front page, for instance. A whole lot of facts and information never gets reported or adequately highlighted and yet we delude ourselves into believing that “if it is in print, it must be true”.
THERE WAS AN INTERESTING BOOK I read long ago which records a dialogue between two philosophers, one of whom is blind. The book had an interesting conclusion : our knowledge of the external world is limited to what is perceived by our senses. There may be a world beyond which we are simply incapable of knowing because such knowledge cannot be perceived by our senses !