You’d define it as the body of things that is verified or indisputable, right?
But how do you even know if that’s true? You can only compare your new, incoming knowledge against your old knowledge and decide whether this new knowledge has space in your preexisting worldview. If it does, great. It’ll fit right in with everything else. If not, then it’s going to take some extra mental effort for you to reshape that square hole so a pentagon-shaped peg can fit into it.
First: an illustration.
Imagine that your memory, worldviews, experiences, and perceptions can be neatly visualized with this board full of different-shaped holes filled with pegs. Your board is ever-expanding, and every time you hear or see something new, you must decide what shape to make the new hole.
Now imagine that you specialize in making square-shaped holes, but the square pegs stop arriving, being replaced with round ones. It continues for a long time, and you decide to start making some round holes to accommodate these round pegs. There’s a square peg in there every once in a while, and even an odd star-shaped one, but they’re all mostly still circles.
Some time passes. You continue to accept round pegs and even send some out yourself. Then you notice that the rate of peg arrival is accelerating, first gradually, then rapidly. Moreover, the shapes of the pegs are ones you’re not used to seeing. Crosses and crescents. Hexagons and Heptagons. Hearts. Ovals. Triangles. The circle-shaped pegs are now hard to pick out.
You can’t keep up. So you decide that you’re only going to accept circle-shaped pegs and discard the rest. And for the rest of your life, each time your board expands, you create a little circle-shaped hole and neatly insert a fresh new circle-shaped peg into it.
Hopefully the analogy was apt.
But there are some things that aren’t addressed, like why you’re being served mostly square pegs to begin with. Is your affinity for square holes due to nature or nurture?
Let’s briefly examine how this analogy applies to our lives right now.
First. your board is ever-expanding, as long as you’re alive. Sometimes you get so focused on the edge of the board that it loses integrity in the center, and those pegs fall away. Other times, you make a conscious decision to cut off parts of your board.
Second, the primary way to filter incoming pegs is by looking at its shape and determining whether it fits into a hole you already have. There are two problems with this:
- You can’t know for certain that the pegs are coming from a reasonable or trustworthy source.
- There’s no way to guarantee that the pegs on your board are from a reasonable or trustworthy source.
You can take a look at the source of the information, but there’s no knowing for sure that the information is accurate and complete.
That’s point #3. You can’t know whether the peg you receive is hollow, made of a different material, or defective in any way, lest you take some time to scrutinize it. And with the rate at which pegs are coming your way, you hardly have any time to do that.
Let’s speak literally.
I’ve spoken about the media before. I detest the media.
Journalists literally have a financial incentive to bend the truth to get people emotional. Their primary function is to turn tragedy into entertainment.
But past all that, there’s no way to know if the information we’re getting is accurate or complete. For example, did you know there are ongoing conflicts in multiple countries in southeast Asia? Did you know there was an explosion at a factory in Beirut that caused $10-15 billion in damages in August?
A skirmish broke out between armed forces on the border between China and India in May this year and there was hardly any reporting on it.
I do concede that this problem is getting better. Now with the advent of smart phones, it’s easy for a bystander to capture video footage of an incident taking place. It’s a more reliable way of sharing information. Much better than waiting for a journalist to write a summary of the incident with implicit biases.
I didn’t want to have to do this, but there will be a part 2 to this post. This post is already long enough.
Tune in next week on Dragonball Z.