Monday, 24 May 2010

Everyone's an expert, noone is

I love the Internet, it's become like a second home to me. For an information junkie like myself who loves to learn stuff, it's the best thing that ever happened. Any time I get curious, or wonder why or have a nagging question in the back of my mind, five minutes of searching and my curiosity is nicely satisfied. And as it's so easy, you'd have thought that everyone would be doing it. education would never have been so good.

But the reality is rather different.

In the first point, there is the well known phenomenon of like minds congregating - intellectual birds of a feather. We like to associate with, read and listen to those whose opinions match our own. It seems to be basic human nature. And it has been noted in politics that trying to refute an opposing opinion can actual entrench the opposition rather than win them around. Balanced opinion forming doesn't seem to be a strong human characteristic but in some ways I can understand such behaviour.

Developing on from that behaviour, however, is the curious Internet phenomenon of the forum experts. (I pick on forums as it seems to be the worst meeting house for such people as I shall describe.) On the one hand, there are genuinely informed people in all areas of human knowledge, true experts and those who just know their field better. working in a technical environment, I encounter them on a regular basis. And having some technical knowledge, I can spot them in other related fields. I have hobbies that involve technical equipment, and I can see how the principles of my profession apply in those fields. I either know what I'm talking about or can spot those who do.

So why is it that forums abound with ignorant nay-sayers (that being ignorant in the true sense of being uniformed, not unintelligent)? Up pops a technical wise-man to dispel myths, expound facts, explain the principles. And from the woodwork jump the anecdotalists with apparent first hand experience (usually irrelevant) to shoot down the facts. Or pitch in pointless opinions. And gather a crowd of supporters.

What happened to checking the facts, admitting ignorance and apologising for failure. In a world of near limitless access to learning, people still wallow in ignorance. Why is that? I'd love to see the research material on why most people would rather not learn anything beyond the minimum to function. It seems true intellectual curiosity, desire to learn and dissatisfaction with not knowing are rare traits. Much is touted of the ability of technology to bring people and knowledge closer together and yet it's the flames of ignorance that attract the most moths. What's the psychology of that behaviour? I can never understand why others don't wish to learn new things but maybe that's because I do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join the conversation, it's more sociable that way.