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Michael Stuart Kelly

How to Stake Out a Claim in the Middle of Information Chaos

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How to Stake Out a Claim in the Middle of Information Chaos

The video below is called "The Confidence Con." I originally thought it was a poor name because it's misleading. There is no con artist featured except the background noise and our own cognitive biases.

But underneath, it's accurate. Despite who or what does the con, we do convince ourselves that we know more than we do about a whole range of issues. But when we have to explain what we know about a specific issue, we see that we were conned all along. We never learned it or even understood it for real. We merely got the illusion that we did.

We always fall into this trap, too. Why?

I can't think of a topic more important right now to epistemology. It's like a preparatory topic. If you can't get good information into your head to begin with, how on earth are you going to think about the validity of information and the mind?

Well, this comes down to memory.

Unfortunately, memory is one area where Objectivism is deficient. Ayn Rand said very little about memory and it just doesn't come up in O-Land discussions. When it does come up, what I've seen over the years is opinions, deductions from broad principles and the like.

But memory is where things start knowledge-wise. If you can't remember a principle, how are you going to practice it? If you can't remember a series of facts and observations, how are you going to induce a principle? And if you can't remember rules and procedures, how are you going to check the observations you do remember?

All of epistemology is based on memory. Without memory, there is no epistemology.

So what do we say about a culture that presents a massive overload of information to you and induces you to believe the illusion that you are competent with it? This culture puts conclusions in your memory along with an emotional punch that you are awesome for knowing it. However, critical thinking get left out or what little is presented gets no positive emotional punch. That's one of the main ways this conclusion can get into long-term memory. That's how manipulators get you to support their ideas without you even thinking about them, much less thinking them through. You just parrot what others say.

A sneakier version is to get you to accept their experts as the sole authorities of information about a specific topic. The result is you have the illusion that when you don't know something, you know with 100% certainty where to turn for it. But what's in your memory is the image of these experts, not anything about the topic itself except the conclusions you are prompted to assimilate.

This, in much different words, is what the video below covers. I have studied almost all of the references that are made in the video and can state--from what's in my memory--that the creator is both accurate and useful when presenting them.

And he's entertaining. So enjoy...

This is important...

This video is not all-inclusive about memory or even the problems and solutions it covers, but it's a hell of a good start.

As in the title of this thread, you can stake out a claim--a real claim and not just an illusion of competence--in the information chaos swirling all around you, but you need awareness. At the minimum, you need an elementary awareness of where you are, what it's doing to you and what you can do about it. And you need some easy procedures.

The video provides both. Hat's off to Will Schoder, the creator.

Michael

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