October 15, 2010

The most pressing question of our time?

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914 – 2004)

I respectfully submit that the greatest puzzle of our time is how we managed to eliminate ignorance while elevating nonsense.

If I ask you, say, how old Buddy Holly was when he died, then, using the same device you are using now to read this, you can find the answer to that question. You cannot not know how old Buddy Holly was when he died, once you've been asked, because getting the answer is just a matter of touching your smartphone or tablet or laptop or what have you the right way, and the answer will be yours.

So, we have, in a sense, eliminated ignorance. But how is it then that there so much nonsense? How is it then, that a substantial fraction of the population believes that our President's religion, or birthplace, or even nationality, are different than the truth? How does such nonsense thrive?

Dear NeuroCooking friends, I do not have an answer. I just think this is perhaps the most interesting – and pressing – question of our time. How is it that we have, simultaneously, managed to eliminate ignorance while elevating nonsense?

1 comment:

  1. Have we eliminated ignorance? I'm not so sure. There's ignorance, as in lack of education, and then there's ignorance as in willfully not wanting to know the facts, which goes beyond education....The institutions, individuals and organizations who understand this have found mechanisms (damned if I know what they are) to elevate nonsense that supports willful ignorance, playing on fear, prejudice, intolerance.



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