by Milan Vodicka
“We live in a world of information.” No kidding! Spoiler alert – we also live in a world of misinformation, disinformation and the absence of information. So what is what? How to make sense of it all, if one would want to do that? Is there “a war” in that “world of information?”
I find the dictionary definition of “information” woefully inadequate: “”Facts provided or learned about something or someone; what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things.” “Facts?” “Things?” What are those?
All of this is very abstract. Yet, it should be evident that there is a contest in the field of information. Let us make it more personal, with a specific example of today. Answer the following question, honestly: Is Putin (president of Russia) a war criminal? Answers: Yes – No – I do not know – I do not care.
Next question: Is your answer determined by what you believe to be the truth? Whoa, hold the horses here. This question hits the thorn of the truth. For simplification, let me outline just three versions of the truth in circulation.
First is the objective truth, chiefly represented by science. It requires proof and/or evidence, by preponderance of it, or beyond reasonable doubt.
Second, it is the post-modernistic everyone has his/her own truth, based on beliefs. The problem of truthfulness is evident in this one. Everyone is left to his/her potentially independent and divorced from reality truth.
The third, scary, is the truth of the majority. What the majority believes is the truth, be it the Earth is flat or the Earth is the center of the universe.“
Based on the objective truth criteria, it seems reasonable to state that each one of us answers the question above based on the information we have at the time of answering the question. It also seems reasonable to assert that the decision is based not only on what one saw or heard in newspapers or TV, but on everything that constitutes a person. This includes the gender, age, health, education, life experiences, community and country, calendar time, and myriads of other aspects. I call this whole set the information base.
Due to my own information base, I am witnessing directly how information-based decision-making manifests itself with regard to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Right there, the info-war is at work. The Russian official vocabulary calls the conflict “special military operation.” Also, “de-Nazification.” Also, “liberation.” Really?
I am in contact with my friends and colleagues in today’s Czech Republic. Czech Republic became a member of the European Union and NATO. Yet, the citizens, due to their information base, constantly rebel against the dictatorship of Brussels and their own government. Some do not believe that their own secretary of state actually traveled to Kyiv in Ukraine. There are vocal supporters of Putin and his aggression (my word) there. Does this remind you of the situation here in the USA?
Is Putin a war criminal? Let me return to the answers. The “yes” answer is validated by evidence. The face value of evidence should be also evaluated by the trustworthiness of the source or sources. In this case, it is corroborated by events reported by reputable worldwide journalistic institutions. By strict logic, the question would not even arise if Putin did not order the invasion.
The “no” answer is negated by logic — it is impossible to prove the negative. The only way for the objective truth of “no” to prevail would be to disprove the evidence to the contrary. This is not going to happen with the crowd of “my truth is the truth” (e.g., the U.S. astronauts were not on the moon; the 2020 presidential election was stolen).
If you answered “I do not know,” you are right. In the dualistic yes-no truth of absolutism, nobody really knows. Even the philosophers cannot agree or conclude what knowledge or knowing means.
Finally, “I do not care” expresses something about priorities. There are better or perhaps more urgent things to do than worry about Putin. The trouble with this one is that world leaders have the capacity to affect our lives, even to take them away. The law of karma is truly and actually valid. Whether you do or not, it has consequences.
The information inside our heads and in the outside world is a major factor in the quality of our lives. We need to pay attention to that and align our actions accordingly.