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3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it

https://theconversation.com/3-reasons-for-information-exhaustion-and-what-to-do-about-it-149615

theconversation.com

3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it
A philosopher writes about why many of us are feeling tired with the constant onslaught of information coming at us.

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Why We Have An Information Epidemic

Why We Have An Information Epidemic

We have a never ending stream of information coming at us, leaving our mind exhausted, with no energy left to engage, debate, analyse or refute the epistemic (epidemic of knowledge).

Uncertainty, polarization and misinformation are the three musketeers of this information overload.

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Information Exhaustion: Reasons

  • Uncertainty: Be it diseases, the political landscape, the global concerns of war, environment and other ongoing crises, we have truckloads of uncertainty in our hands, which is stressing us out.
  • Polarization: We are more polarized than anytime in history, trapped in our echo chambers, with our mind filled with confirmation bias. The distrust we have of those who don’t think like us fuels our polarized mindset.
  • Misinformation: Fake news is everywhere, and it is not just to spread misinformation, but to impair our critical thinking abilities.

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Information Exhaustion: Dealing With Uncertainty

You can handle uncertainty by:

  1. Limiting news consumption.
  2. Focusing on things that are in your control.
  3. Practice meditation and cultivate mindfulness in order to be more comfortable with uncertainty.

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Information Exhaustion: Dealing With Polarization

Handle the problem of polarization by:

  1. Rather than competing with others, you can look at cooperation and empathic understanding.
  2. Try to look at the other person’s perspective and learn something new instead of being stubborn with your own beliefs.

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Information Exhaustion: Dealing With Misinformation

Misinformation, or fake news, can be handled by:

  1. Only sharing news stories that are verified.
  2. Prioritizing consumption from news outlets that are meeting high ethical journalistic standards.

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Reason is more of a guide

In a world where we can have complete information about everything, reason can give us certain answers. However, the world we are living in is not even close to having all the answers. In this world, words are fallible. So is perception and imagination.

Reason is then more of a guide than a symbol of truth.

The limits of understanding

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The illusory truth effect

The illusory truth effect

It's our tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure to it.

The illusory truth effect is the reason why advertising and propaganda works.

Why repetition reinforces a belief

The typical explanation is that our brains take shortcuts to save energy:

  • Statements presented in as easy-to-read color are judged as more likely to be true.
  • Aphorisms that rhyme (like “what sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals") seem more accurate than non-rhyming versions.

    Carl Sagan

    Carl Sagan

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. ”