As human beings, how do we determine if information given to us is good or not?

We as the human race “Trust” or “Not Trust” the messenger (channel) of the information. Its more efficient and easier to trust the messenger than analyzing the content. Human brain does not (in the main) analyze the content to make that determination, it simply trusts the information it receives based on the “channel” that delivers it. Human brain will, in majority of the cases, take the shortcut of not having to “analyze” the content and blindly trust the messenger (channel). Yes, judge the book by its cover!

In early days of human evolution, where there was no transportation apart from a horse back or means to receive information remotely apart from a smoke signal, the information was being provided by people we knew (knew to trust or knew not to trust), these people were the “messenger” of the information and this way our brain could easily categorize the information as

-“Yep trust this” or
-“Nope don’t trust this”

based on the messengers brain only had to deal with few messengers (channel).

Then suddenly with the advent of transportation and technology (industrial revolution) human brain was faced with a new challenge. The human brain was receiving information from a “written source”….newspapers…
How does the human brain make a determination to trust or not to trust this information?
Actually written source as a “channel” dates back to tablets and etching. If the tablet was etched in the middle of the village, then human brain trusted it.
Have you ever doubted street signs or simply follow them?

We accept them as truth, because of the location/channel. Imagine a world where you question the validity of street signs while navigating!

However with the advent of industrial revolution and  thanks to the innovation of printing machine,  information sharing sky rocketed.

As a result a new dimension in our brain’s trust hierarchy was born. Instead of just trusting or not trusting another human brain -as the messenger/channel, we started trusting Location/Channel (entities)  in which the information was being delivered. We started trusting “entities” that delivered information, (like newspapers etc) on top of trusting another human being that used to deliver information to us.

Newspapers were born…. Human brain now had 2 new mechanisms to determine if the information could be trusted or not

a-People the brain knew (friends/family)
             Handful of people we know so it’s manageable…
b-Channels (entities) that delivered the information/news
            Handful of channels we know…still manageable…

(Channels like Newspapers you like and trust, or TV channels you use for your information like CNN, MSNBC, FOX and so on.)
Few friends or family plus few entities that deliver information is still managable task by a human brain.  Human brain was still able to handle this new challenge.

Then with our evolution……we reached a pivotal point where the “channel” that delivered information to us exploded!

Internet happened! While human brain was receiving information from only a handful of trusted sources, now we have “micro-channels” of information delivery. Anyone is connected to anybody and there is a free information flow between them and the medium in which they travel cannot be trusted, because they are merely a platform for communication and not content creation (eg: Twitter, facebook, instagram ….any social media allows any to any communication is merely a platform for exchanging information between any parties and they are not content creation vehicles, therefore do not control the accuracy of the content they serve). These platforms connect any to any and shuffle information in between, they don’t neither create or control the content (so far anyway).

So now what!?

Is everything I read on Internet true?
Is everything I read on Internet false?

Human brain is now presented a new challenge, a challenge it successfully avoided for tens of thousands of years – the challenge of “analyzing the content” to determine its validity vs simply trusting the channel and and what the channel delivered!

Oh dear! We have to think now! Use our grey cells to figure out if the “content” can be trusted or not. Instead of judging the book, we first have to read it!

Is human brain capable of handling this challenge today? Can the current society function without taking this “short cut” of trusting the channel blindly?

One thing for sure, its a challenge it has to overcome! Time to start thinking!


Some thought Experiments to play with:

1- Spend one day not trusting any information you see and question its validity and try to establish if its valid or not. (Good luck!)
2- Spend a week trusting any and every information you see/hear from any and every source and direct your life as if these information are the truth (including the spam emails you receive! 🙂 )
3- Spend one day of driving and following street signs and GPS but assume they are all false.
4- Thought experiment: Imagine you were abducted by aliens and returned safely. You told your friends and the world.
a – How many will believe you?
b – If the government was to confirm that you were telling the truth, how many will believe then?
5- Thought experiment: If Aliens didn’t exist, but Government told public that Aliens did exist: How many will believe? (Shows that human brain trust the “channel” called “Government”, (yes yes some don’t, but enough do to allow propaganda to control the masses and cause world war II (remember Joseph Goebbels-head of The Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda) ! ..)
6-Thought experiment: Imagine a world where “lying” didn’t exist. What functions of the society would you not need?
7-Thought experiment: Imagine a world where everything is a lie, how would you live in that world?