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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 19 - The Profound Effect of Information

so today or tomorrow im gonna try and get a test podcast up. im gonna try and use skype first but if you guys have an suggestions or recommendations for what i should talk about next just message me.

So this one i wanted to talk about the effect of information on us. Information is usually synonymous with knowledge but they are far from being the same thing at least in my opinion. Information is the data and other stimuli that people can get from everywhere just by carrying out their everyday lives. Knowledge is the what you do with the information you get like how you interpret or understand it. I got inspired to write this note after in english class we had to write about if statistics give the whole story. Statistics are just a form of information that can be gathered through experimentation and studies. They tell a story themselves but are just facts and have no real meaning. The important part of statistics is the formulation that we do when we receive this information. The way people interpret is based upon that persons bias and personal viewpoints. There are a lot of glass half full or half empty scenarios that occur when looking at data. An individuals personality is also a factor in the way we interpret the information we absorb from our environment. If you are a stubborn person then you are going to take the information how you want it to like if you are a worrier and somebody comes to you with urgent info you automatically assume the worst.

To piggyback off of my last post about communication, if information is presented in a specific format then your own opinion can possibly funneled down the path that the presenters of the information wanted you to look at. If it is presented in a very sloppy method then it allows wider interpretation and possible miscommunication. If you only give one part of the story then you are limiting the information and therefore other possible interpretations. This lack of information leads to biased viewpoints as well as a sense of ignorance. If you have no idea whats going on like behind the scenes then your limited scope allows you to be completely unaware and in a way can lift the heavy load that some information can bear. I do feel that ignorance is bliss because some information can be harmful to your physical and mental well being. If you found out that your dad was having an affair and your mom was oblivious would you want to have that information? What would you in turn do about it? Would you keep it bottled up or tell your mom or confront your dad? All these thoughts take a toll on your brain that requires all your knowledge and previous experience to formulate a decision to how you will respond to the situation at hand. After all is said and done you sometimes wish you hadnt figured out what was going on in the first place.

Context is another factor that is dependent upon the information you receive. The background information is vital in making a rational and complete decision. If your employee hadnt been showing up to work recently, your biased opinion might assume that she has been slacking, but in reality she could have suffered a heart attack preventing her from accomplishing her work. Bet you wish you knew that before you decided to fire her right? It is always better to know the full story in respect to making an all encompassing decision based on the big picture but this total understanding isnt always possible in certain situations. Sometimes you will never know the whole story and there is nothing you can do about it except making the best of what information you have and using you instincts as well as your prior knowledge to make the best decision possible.

Information can be so vital that if you miss just one part it can create drastically different outcomes like how you respond. One of the best examples of sensitive data that i can think of off the top of my head is the code that makes up you and me. Our dna is so fragile that if one piece of information was off, that could mean the difference between life and death. This is how some diseases and disabilities occur, because there is a mishap on the transportation of data causing mutations and other undesirable side effects. This leads me to my next point about how important the transmission and reception of information is and how vulnerable to manipulation it can be at times. Just play a game of telephone with some friends where a person at one end comes up with a statement and how it changes from person to person until the end where the message can be completely different from the original.

I also want to bring up the internet and how we live in the information age. There is so much information out on the internet and weeding through it to find actual worthwhile data can be a constant struggle. Some data can be classified and for certain eyes only like your private data like from your social security to your cell phone number. As technology advances unfortunately our privacy decreases as basically everything put up on the internet is up to be viewed by the public eye. Some people have even gone to the extent to "lifecast" their lives and have their day to day activities be viewable to everyone 24/7. There are times when disclosure of information to the public can be hazardous. One obvious example is the ever rising identity theft and taking on the persona of another when you acquire enough information about that person. We live in a day an age of basically unlimited information so be sure to protect yours.

-Allan Nicholas

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