Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Opinions vs facts

"Everything is unsettled, everything is argued about, and very few things are ever totally resolved on the Net." David Weinberger 

I've been thinking for a while about the whole amount of information (whether accurate or not) available on the internet. I forgot where I read it, but if we want to read everything that is available online up till today, well it would take us... maybe a century or so. 

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said famously "Everybody is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts,"

It's really nice and awesome that the digital era, is actually the "everyone has an opinion, can express his/her opinion, will be read by few or many, and possibly influence them into action or a different line of thought." But as every important tool, it's a two edged sword

 It seems to me that the world is so chaotic—and that we are so limited by our own perspectives—that the most likely way to advance is through the clash of different perspectives, different data sets, different prejudices, different blind spots. 

Even though, clashes, difference of opinions, prejudices, bad news, natural disaster, nuclear threat, politics, terrorism, hunger, poverty, climate change, the variety of educational systems and whatever comes out of all this... even though it's sad, tough, hard to deal with, unfair, and just a bitch sometimes... it's the world, it is what is and if there were no bad things, no good things will exist. Yin yang... 

The only way to think of good things, of scientific advancement, of ways to improve, to help, to think of the other, to become less selfless, to be a hardworker, to be creative, to stretch your mind into as much as you can, to challenge yourself... is driven by the existence of less interesting things, of sad events, of difference of opinions and of hard situations. 

If we were all to live in a comfort zone, no... the world will not be an ideal place, will not be perfect. It will simply disintegrate... to survive, it's going to need the black and the bad.

Yes, we want all people to realize that x is bad, and y is good and z is the right thing to do. But then what? and who says that we're the right ones?

This post is inspired by this article "What is the future of knowledge in the internet age?" on Scientific American. About a project:

"an attempt to build a computer model of all the social, economic, ecological and scientific factors at play in the world"

Too many factors, too much complexity, how much can you trust a machine that is based on our own knowledge, erroneous one might I add. 

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