Decision Making

May 05

Thoughts on Self Selection

While picking some with JP this evening he brought up some new show on CNN that feature two people reading headlines from the blogosphere. Oddly enough the Daily Show on Comedy Central also had a piece on that as well.

JP also said something to the effect that with all of our technology we aren’t any better informed. After some thought, here’s what I think about that.

For the purposes of this post, there are three kinds of information

  • Identical Knowledge – this is information that is seen and believed identically. Example are Columbus landing in this hemisphere in 1492, Water boiling at 100 degrees Celsius, etc. Generally this is value neutral.
  • Shared Knowledge – Knowledge that is generally attached to a point of view or some moral value where two people can know basically the same facts but arrive at different conclusions. Examples are the designated hitter in baseball, politics, conspiracy theories, etc.
  • Personal Knowledge – this is knowledge that one person knows, but that other people in his or her social group do not. An example are highly specialized data that comes from hobbies or one’s job.

I think that with the ever present technology Personal Knowledge has increased dramatically in relation to the other two types, giving the appearance that we all know less since Identical Knowledge (which is largely verifiable) is an ever smaller percentage of what people know.