Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Knowledge Glut and the Masters of (Dis?)Information

It just occured to me this evening as I sit here with a nasty cold (as I sit here in my bathrobe, rather than dressed and on my way to work), that we are terribly condioned beings. We're dictated to in some very subtle ways, and it affects how we interpret the events of our own personal lives. Our direct experiences, are being shaped by the influence of others.

I thought to myself, about how differently I'd probably see the world if I was never exposed to television as a child. Or if perhaps I was either home-schooled, or sent to a private school of some kind. So many of the things that I have come to believe to be inevitable, so many inclinations on my part, would simply be absent from me.

It's startling even to see those persons who you think would be the last to succumb to this deluge of mass-media, "pop-culture" influence (religious folks) be in thrall to it to some degree, even if it's subtle. There is nothing in the history of more conservative Christian creeds that mandates rabid egalitarianism, or denies the possibility that there are great inequalities both between peoples, and within peoples, in all sorts of worldly spheres (intelligence, physical attributes, affluence, etc.) Yet, I see this undifferentiated liberalism more or less spouted by them, no differently than it would be from a secular humanist equally formed by the "powers that be". So while the secularist and the conservative Christian might answer "positive" or "negative" on a whole bunch of test questions (ex. "is there a God?" or "is there an after-life?"), on many other issues they're quite homogenous - and both are liable to turn on anyone (or at least be made to feel uneasy toward anyone) who differed with them on this genuine "cultural consensus".

Hence, while not everyone believes there is a literal spiritual entity called "satan", all de facto believe there was an Austrian dude back in the 30's-40's who de-facto fills that position for us in the popular pantheon (Adolf Hitler). This creates the abormality in so called "Christian North American Society" of say, a Nazi-fetishist being considered more of a social pariah than a self professed satan worshipper.

I've even come to suspect that some of my own spiritual confusion is the bastard offspring of this subtle conditioning. Were I to approach the world on it's own terms, with that "common sense" that G.K. Chesterton spoke a great deal of, I probably would not be so baffeled. It's very hard however, to be a child of the T.V. age, and to be able to readily seperate whose thoughts are whose.


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