Do I have plastic cylinders for biceps and perfectly circular eyes that take up literally a third of my face? Of course not, but you have no way of knowing that.
Sure, I could stick a picture of me on here, as I’ve done with my profile picture on this site, but these are only accurate representations of me because you believe me when I tell you that they are; ultimately, all knowledge obtained from others is based on trust, a trust which the Internet abuses to a massive extent.
Regarding knowledge in general, anything we know that isn’t gained from first-hand experience can only be known with trust; I wasn’t there when England won the World Cup in 1966, but I have been told this by my friends and family, and so know it. I trust these people, perhaps naively, because I have no reason to think they would lie to me; however, this judgement is flawed, as it focuses on my impression of what others’ motivations would be onto their motivations – they are telling the truth because I would expect them to.
Clearly, we can never know anyone as well as we know ourselves, and so it is perhaps foolish to simply believe the opinion of another based exclusively on our own, frankly unrelated, opinion of them.
The way around this is the way taught in GCSE History lessons across the land – learn about who the educator is, and then make an informed judgement on whether they are lying or not. This still doesn’t make sense though, as defining another’s ideas based on our own ideas is an inherently broken system, regardless of how much we know about the writer’s political or cultural opinions.
Perhaps technology helps us to believe the information we are told: you know that the current President of the USA is Barack Obama, but have you seen him yourself? Were you there when he was sworn into office? Probably not; again, we only know stuff because we trust others are telling it to us correctly. Obviously, technology can help with the dispersal and evidencing of knowledge – Obama’s inauguration speech was televised for God’s sake.
However, technology, and particularly the Internet, can have the exact opposite reaction, in that it is easy to evidence either a truth or a lie; like that FMCV troll a few years back when they tried to convince people Football Manager legend Wang Haibo had signed for a Premiership club, using ‘evidence’ of photoshopped pictures and Twitter hashtags.
And the Internet kinda abuses the trusting nature of a lot of people – it’s become hard-wired into the human brain to trust people when they tell us stuff, as thousands of years ago, information was incredibly precious, with most of it being life-saving: “Hey Steve, see that sabre-tooth tiger over there? Yeah, don’t try to pet it, Alice died giving it a hug.” The difficulty of obtaining the necessary information to survive in the brutal world of thirty thousand years ago meant that accepting, or at least considering the plausibility of, information given by others became as much of a human trait as being attracted to loud noises and vibrant colours (these last traits are why TV has been so damn successful).
So now, some people will believe any nonsense that’s spouted at them over Twitter – folks are both easy to convince, and our society has developed so that it’s easier to spread lies than ever before; now, we don’t accept information that will save us from being eaten alive, but false information about how our own solar system functions.
To me, it seems as though trust has been totally removed from the information-gathering process for most of humanity; we don’t accept information from trusted sources, we accept conflicting and confusing information from all sources, then try to form unified opinions based on these differing sources. This is probably why some kids feel torn between accepting the views of their parents and those they are being taught in schools (link to the Yahoo answers kid whose parents are fundamental Christians, but they’re being taught evolution at schools); these ideas are incompatible, but people will, literally, believe anything these days.
This leads to some misunderstandings about our society and its history; ironically, the unregulated nature of spreading information via the Internet in our society, generally a good thing, has arguably led to the most confused part of human history; back in the bloody Dark Ages, people single-mindedly focused on the idea of having to worship God to have a prosperous and happy life and got on with it – see, less information, but more clarity and purpose.
Coming back to me, I try to circumvent the apparent easiness with which one can pollute the mind of another with contradictory and invalid ideas by talking exclusively about my own opinions; these blog posts attempt to convey no factual detail, just my own reactions to things. It would be harmful, for instance, to say that Sports are the greatest thing ever without any evidence, but I feel that it could be considered insightful if I talk about why I think Sports are enjoyable in a subjective way.
I’m not saying all of you are gullible morons or are led exclusively by the ideas of others, but I am wary that some people may interpret an unsupported or factually incorrect opinion as the objective truth, an interpretation that will lead to a load of confusion and conflict later on in life. Therefore, I only try to write about things that you can trust me to be accurate on: my reactions to printers and optimism for instance, that you can clearly see as my views, and form your own as a result.
Either that or I’m a compulsive liar who loves printers, hates sports and is really quite optimistic, who is using this blog as a sadist’s social experiment into the gullibility of modern humanity. And who may or may not be made out of cups.
– On the Internet, nobody knows you’re made of cups (MIND = BLOWN)
– FMCV (a most amusing page, if you’re into football or Football Manger)
– How to walk on the Sun (hear that? It’s the sound of our societies’ collective intelligence slipping away)
– The history of evolution (as asked by someone with absolutely no understanding of the theory of evolution)