In an age of abundance, where we are bombarded with information that leaks out of our pockets, it is no surprise that we are living in a period that has been dubbed by some as ‘The Age of Disinformation’. We see this most evidently in our politics, as actors existing in the extreme ends of the political spectrum aim to provide simple answers to the complex issues of our time, a result attributable to the collapse of the centre. But politics aside, how can we attempt to navigate through this age and trust elites that have become charlatans that paint images of impossible utopias, rather than the logical professors they once were?
The same question has existed since Socrates’ scepticism towards sophists, who were special philosophers that provided guidance to the nobility on important matters. As much as we can learn a great deal from those that possess fountains of knowledge, Socrates believed, however, that knowledge could also emanate from self-knowledge. Many of these elder-types have information that is worth possessing, but they also hold their own biases and prejudices that have been passed down or newly created just like everyone else. And so, the importance of critical reasoning was established in order to distinguish stagnated thinking from revitalising tradition in a modern context.
In my very first post, “Sardines and Washing Feet,” I spoke about Buddha’s teachings about the importance of questioning everything and never accepting what is put in front of you at face value. Scientific advancement can only be achieved through doubting even the most mundane phenomenon that we experience. Divisive rhetoric is often reduced to short and easily-digestible statements, and it’s important that we are both able and willing to delve into their deeper meaning. Where short six second videos and five minute interviews once thrived on social media platforms, they are being made extinct through people’s desire for more in-depth answers beyond the surface level. Long form media’s resurgence has seen two hour-long lectures garner millions of views, as an appetite has been formed for those who begin to unpack the simple statements in search of what’s true.
At the end of it, there is the perception of reality that has been fed to you, and there is truth. One will be conveniently unpacked for you so that you submit to the current consensus without feeling the need to criticise it. The other is waiting for you to discover it on your own terms.
Search for the answers and reclaim the truth.