Before we can determine what the present situation is, we need information about our environment. This information can come only from our exterior senses and from our body (hunger and pain, for instance). Naturally what a another person says or has written is an important source of information:
Another source of information is our memory of the results of previous actions. So we observe:
- We can consult an expert of this field
- We can consult journals and books in a library
- We can search the internet
- We can buy a book in a bookstore
We should pay special attention to information received through spoken or written words and to pictures seen by TV and the Internet. It is incredible , how much information that we receive is incorrect. We should ask ourselves the following questions, and, based on our answers, decide if the news is probably true or false ("news" here means printed articles, books and other spoken, written or shown information).
- how our actions affect other intelligent systems in our environment.
- how our actions affect the rest of the environment.
- our own thoughts: Why do we believe this or that. Why do we not believe the opposite.
- our emotions, and how they are influenced by positive and negative emotions of others (If we do not like what we observe, we should get out of the group we are in).
- our body. How is it affected by different foods, the weather and other environmental factors.
- and analyze what we hear and see.
Contents of the news:
- Is the news without internal contradictions?
- How much detail does the news contain. Does it contain places, names, persons, time, date and directions? Is the lack of detail normal for this type of news?
- Is the news according to known scientific laws? If not, it has to be checked extraordinarily well.
- Does the information contradict other, previously obtained, information? If so, what is the evidence that this new information is true? Can this piece of information be tested? Can it be quantified? If the new information is true, the older, contradictory, information has to be thrown out.
- Is the news verbal? Is it a written or recorded document? Is it a firsthand account or a repetition of what another person has said?
- If we can check any part of the news, we do so (using encyclopedias, handbooks, the Internet, a library). If a part is false, chances are good that all is false.
- If we like the news, we will normally believe it without much checking. But liking a piece of news does not make it any truer.
- If the news contains emotional attacks on other persons and organizations, especially if without details, it is often false and has to be checked carefully.
- If the "news" is already traditional knowledge and has not been checked for centuries, it should be rechecked before assuming that it is true.
- Does it seem possible that an unusual occurrence could be true, even though it contradicts our present knowledge of the environment ? If so, we should not reject it outright, but, if possible, check it very carefully before accepting or rejecting it.
Credibility of the source of the news:
- Has the source previously given correct news?
- Would the source be hurt significantly, if it is found out later that the news was false?
- Is the source knowledgeable in this area?
- Does the source believe many things without checking them?
- If the source talks bad about an enemy, that information mostly is not true. If it concedes good points of an enemy, that probably is true.
- Does the source have a personal interest, a personal advantage, if the news is true?
- Does the source have known prejudices in the area the news covers?
A second source for the news:
After considering all these points, it should be possible to decide if the piece of news is probably true or false.
- What reaction of organizations would we expect, if the news is true. Has this reaction really occurred?
- Is the news such that it should have been observed by several persons? Are there reports of these persons? Have they been interviewed?
- Information about what another person has said, can be short and complete. Information about occurrences in our environment can never be short and complete. The environment has much to much detail for that, and in any case is only partially knowable. We should always treat with extreme care news that is short and complete and sounds logical. The environment is much too complicated for that to be possible. Somebody has completed and adjusted this piece of news by using his imagination.
- Two pieces of news about the same occurrence, which only differ in detail, support each other. Two news that are identical in detail, do not support each other, they both come from the same source.
We take this immense amount of information, and concentrating on that which is important for our objectives, we build up the present situation. Doing this, we should use concepts that are useful and correspond to our environment.
For details see Misuse of concepts (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now).
We try to get as much detail as required for our purposes. Without sufficient and correct information from our environment, we will build up an erroneous situation and reacting to it, our responses will not be adequate to the real situation. We will not reach our objective.
For continuous reading, like a book - continue
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