Ignorance – the path of the Dark Side

The first (serious) post is a difficult one…not only because there are a lot of thoughts jumping around but also because the tone and the topic of the first writings can end up setting the norm for the ones that will follow.

With that in mind, and promising not to let one post set the agenda for all others to come, I should highlight that there’s a great deal of things going around the world right now. But this does not mean our age is particularly eventful, what it means is that: 1) Today, thanks to real-time communication and global media, we can be better informed than ever before; 2) Previous ages were no less eventful (though repercussions of events from 60 years ago had a smaller dimension than today).

When there’s too little information, we tend to follow the only available source. When there’s too much information, we tend to follow the source that most resembles our views. In 2015, we can access literally thousands of different sources to know what is happening either 1 km or 10 000 kms from us – yet, we overwhelmingly tend to stick to the sources that make us feel ideologically more reassured and which validate our perspectives.

Quino - Unawareness

Quino – Unawareness

Going beyond everyday information, we can also access a staggering amount of knowledge in hundreds of different fields:  60 years ago, one had to buy an expensive encyclopedia (with some of its contents getting outdated quickly); today, one can quickly access written, audio and video documents, often in direct confrontation with each other, quicker than any renowned researcher from six decades ago. That’s something remarkable and worthy of a tribute of its own.

Yet, this does not necessarily mean that we are inherently better informed or more knowledgeable than our counterparts from the mid-20th century. If anything, it means that in an age where information and knowledge are widely available and accessible – at least for those who live in developed countries and for those with a minimum knowledge of information technology – the persistence and profusion of ignorance and distortion is something that shames us. « In the age of information, ignorance is a choice » and while we are all ignorant to a certain extent, remaining ignorant is the worst choice one can make. Even more tragic is when this ignorance is the result of external players: when one’s political or economic interests depend on others’ ignorance to be fulfilled, the act of keeping others ignorant is the intellectual equivalent to a crime against humanity.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ignorance is bliss

Calvin & Hobbes – Ignorance is bliss

This ignorance can lead to disastrous choices: regimes and entities, democratic and anti-democratic have conducted actions that brought significant damage and suffering to their own people and to others due to an imposition of ignorance – legitimate or consented.

As rational, sentient creatures, it is our duty and responsibility to not only make ourselves less ignorant – and while this is impossible to measure quantitatively, the benefits of being well-informed are priceless – but to contribute towards a virtual war against ignorance, one which will prevent obscurantism from becoming a dominant and overwhelmingly fatal force in human life.

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