FYI

Posted: April 2, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

Lots of books out there on the topic of the information age, and how to tell what’s true and what isn’t. With everyone able to post anything anywhere, how does the average person navigate the web hoping to get the best information? You and I know the answer to that, but I’m not positive everyone else out there does.

True Enough makes great points re: how dubious so many sources really are, and how easily people are led astray by bad information, especially if that information contains elements supporting their own beliefs.

Manjoo also writes at length about experiments conducted to determine how people make decisions, how willing they are to tolerate listening to opposing viewpoints. The group was given a radio not quite tuned into a station espousing the opposite of their beliefs. I.E., a Conservative  would get a station expounding on Liberal views. The subject could bring the station into tune by pressing the button regularly, but the study found, in nearly all cases, everyone chose to listen to static rather than hear opposing views.

What does that say about humans and information?

I find it really disturbing. With the choice of seeking out true information or believing what you already thought was true are you actually going to go with what supports your beliefs? How narrow that is, and how difficult to overcome. Makes me wonder how librarians can compete with a public content to rely on sources such as Wikipedia for all their information needs. After all, if it’s written on the internet it must be correct. Right?

True Enough is an eye-opening read. I recommend it.

Related titles:

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (6/2010)

You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier

This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future by John Brockman

Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass R. Sunstein

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