Knowledge is Power
A simple three-word phrase that opens a Pandora’s Box filled with possibility and interpretation.
I was surprised to find that the fellow who coined this phrase was from modern times and not from hundreds of years ago. Perhaps he may have been paraphrasing something he had heard along the way. I simply do not know. What I now know is his name was Michel Foucault and he was a philosopher. He was born in 1926 and died in 1984 as a result of complications from AIDS.
So I have added a tiny bit more to my own personal knowledge base by simply being curious.
Potentially useless knowledge but you just never know.
Regardless of the trivia, the phrase ‘knowledge is power’ is filled with questions if you have the type of mind to question things.
I will mention shepherds and to remove the misunderstanding created by assumption, I refer to any person, group, organisation, or entity that uses information and knowledge to move people and society in the directions that they want to. This is not a reference to secret governments within governments, or evil masterminds in colourful costumes and nefarious schemes, however it can allude to agendas hidden or otherwise.
What I question is how relevant knowledge is to power today just as it has been in times gone by. For without knowledge we are little more than sheep who go where the shepherds tell us to go and do what the shepherds tell us to do.
I personally find it repellent to blindly accept what the shepherds want.
History tells that when we do as the shepherds want then, more often than not, find to our dismay that their guidance has been driven by ambition, greed, and an agenda.
Sadly, that is as old as civilisation itself, and sadly will never change.
The manipulation of the masses is how power is seized, and held, and that is by manipulating and controlling information and knowledge. Holding power sometimes requires some tweaks like concentration camps, secret police, and other such minor things to ensure that those pesky people you rule toe the line and keep you in the style you desire.
Whilst the above my sound conspiratorial in nature, it is historically proven time and time again. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that these things are revealed and with revelation comes determination to not let history repeat. Yet it does, such is human nature.
Moving into today’s world where the sum total of all human knowledge can be held in your hand via technology, society in large part seem to be intent on avoiding real knowledge and have something else. Manipulation of knowledge and information is standard fare and can be done seamlessly it seems.
Take for example that one of the information sites available, Wikipedia, which is broadly accessed to source information, can and is edited by anyone who wants to. Information and knowledge can, even if for a short time, can be manipulated to suit a purpose.
Less often accessed is Google Scholar which is a database of published material and less subject to manipulation.
It is probably less broadly sourced as it just isn’t that much fun to have to look for information when another site just provides you the link to what they have published, or someone has published for them.
Couple this with the dumbing down of society by a variety of means and there is fertile ground for some character to manipulate the masses into a way of thinking or acting. A vehicle by which to change the current mindset and replace it with a mindset that serves the self-interest of others.
Naturally the manipulation is sublime at first and then as goals are achieved the gloves slowly come off and a whole bunch of people get their first glimpse of what is coming. These glimpses are usually a result of tunnel visioned arrogance on behalf of the manipulators, and sheeplike apathy on behalf of the population due to being bombarded by the new doctrine at every turn. The level of crazy would be the stuff of fantasy if it weren’t for the uncomfortable reality that this is real life. A great example is in Australia where there is a mouse plague in parts of the country so animal rights group comes out and wants the mice to be treated humanely due to being oppressed by human supremacy. They proposed a catch and release policy. As I said, total crazy.
Always this is driven by greed and the desire for power to achieve a goal that is self-serving in basis. Even causes that have come into existence in the effort to produce something for the greater good of humanity are often perverted by the desire to make a profit. It is the crazy that numbs and dumbs populations, and these are things best delivered by all the fringe nutjobs who are out there in the world. It is the industrial strength crazy that is the means to manipulate a population as it makes them pliable. Toss in a tragedy or two and it’s a perfect mix to steer the way people think.
There are countless examples of how information is manipulated to achieve a goal.
It was known in America in the political sphere that the Vietnam War was unwinnable and yet it was continued by the government to keep the industrial military machine going as it was good for the economy. Prolonging a war became about wealth and not about fighting for a cause. In this instance the information was supressed, and false information propagated worldwide. As a result, the truth of the matter was suppressed, and new knowledge was manufactured to support and justify a course of action that had become about wealth. It took decades for this to be revealed, and even with that release of information it is not common knowledge as it is unimportant to most of us today.
The same goes for the Gulf War and the politics of that region. It is clear to see that western involvement is messy, convoluted, and extends back in time far beyond the outbreak of hostilities. It appears a lot of the trouble potentially stems from a few rich families, in both America and the Middle East doing business together had a falling out. There was a bit of bad blood and perhaps a grudge or two just begging for an excuse to get some payback. That there was some payback extracted is a bit of an understatement when you look back over the last twenty years.
Don’t worry about the amount of deaths and human misery that has happened and is ongoing, that’s just a by-product of doing business in that region apparently. It is good for business to have a bit of turmoil to keep things interesting and profitable. More than a few millionaires have been made from that ongoing conflict alone.
The latest and greatest global manipulation is the climate change roadshow. I don’t know if it is a ‘real’ emergency or not, however, I have my own opinions which I generally keep to myself. Yet there is a global hysteria about how the planet must be saved but dismally little on how to save it. There are volumes published online from social media to media feeds which are more about shaming someone into doing or not doing something. How that makes a difference I really do not know considering that there is no clear plan or path. In fact, the technology that would allow the planet to go carbon neutral doesn’t exist right now, someone has to invent it. But we won’t talk about things like that as it doesn’t fit the narrative.
What I do know is that the climate change movement has made excellent use of the information dissemination tools available to manipulate the global society into hysteria and sadly they have chosen a vehicle to promote this largely by means of children. The young are very pliable simply because they have little real-life experience, a thing only time can accrue. The other thing is that the young love a good cause and leap on board without really looking, in that youthful blindness they are nothing more than useful idiots. Many adults have the experience gained with time to perhaps take a closer look at the cause and hold some healthy scepticism.
The knowledge the manipulator imparts is more subjective than objective and when opposing science is presented it is dismissed in a fresh wave of hysteria, hatred, and name calling. When an opposing view is treated in this fashion then it is advisable to pause and consider the strength of those trying to silence the opposing view as they may be suspect in their intentions.
What is apparent, and well known, is that there are no solid ideas or programs emplaced and that trillions of dollars have been made in the climate change arena already. So, greed and power at play more than altruism and genuine intent for the greater good. What are the odds of that happening?
The pertinence and urgency of climate change is going to be decided by the passage of time and if indeed the climate is going through a change that is negative towards humanity. Historically the end of humanity due to climate change has been predicted on several occasions from as far back as the 1800’s and yet life has gone on.
There is one certain knowledge about the climate of this planet and that is the simple unavoidable fact that it is in a constant state of change and at some point the current range of species will largely disappear to be replaced by another set of species. That’s it.
Perhaps at this point you may be thinking I am way off track and am more about finding conspiracy and agendas rather than discussing how knowledge is power. Consider the examples given and a reasonable person will deduce that knowledge and the manipulation of knowledge, the information disseminated to the masses is most definitely about power.
Hence knowledge is power, even when it is the manipulation of knowledge.
Time to move to how Australia has been systematically been ‘dumbed down’.
Recent reports have indicated that nearly fifty percent of Australians lack basic reading, writing and mathematical skills. This is not just mind boggling, it is very concerning if accurate. That would make Australia the real-life version of the movie Idiocracy. I doubt the veracity of this finding yet it is disturbing that people can lack such basic skills given a public education system that provides for every Australian.
Mark Williams, a neuroscientist has been conducting studies into technology for a number of years and his findings are alarming. One of his findings is that technology has resulted in an average of a thirty percent reduction in information retention as a direct result of using devices.
He is somewhat politely scathing over the use of smartphones as while they provide the vehicle for accessing the sum total of all human knowledge, they rarely are. In large part they are the device of choice for social interaction.
Smartphone addiction, the rise and rise of social media and the negative impacts it is having in society are appalling. Information is more subjective than objective in current times, feeling takes precedence over thinking, and opinion is more relevant than fact. The mental health issues which are rising at alarming rates can be linked back to the isolation of the individual from meaningful human interaction and has instead been replaced by digital interaction.
The indicators that the advent and rise of technology is resulting in a negative impact towards society and humanity are apparent.
2019 saw a report into our education system which found that most students only possessed rudimentary mathematic skills due to it no longer being considered a core subject. The NSW government, to its credit, announced that mathematics would once more be a core subject and then the debate began as to why this implementation would be difficult at best and a major problem at worst with a multitude of reasons put forth.
I wonder at when reading and writing will be discovered to be held at rudimentary levels by most students. I have noticed that the quality of handwriting has become generally appalling and it can be linked to technology and broadscale utilisation of keyboards and word processing programs. Also, the loss of understanding and use of writing skills as evidenced by the use of spell-checking algorithms rather than individuals having certain knowledge of grammar and punctuation.
I freely admit that nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives can be difficult at times to understand. But suffixes and prefixes; come on that is merely simple logic yet sadly a great many people are clueless. Spelling errors are a source of irritation to me, particularly the misuse of ‘to’ and ‘too’. Come on that one is simple!
I was dismayed that the ability to source information and then check the veracity of information sourced had become an onerous undertaking, and rather a quick Google search was more than sufficient for most people.
A humorous example of this is a student who had to write an essay on English history, who instead watched Game of Thrones and thinking that was about English history wrote the entire essay based on a mini-series which came from a series of novels based in pure fantasy. I don’t know how much truth is in that tale, however, it does illustrate how the easy answer is more seductive than finding the real answer.
Our education system has STEM programs which promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics but that is for the few who display the ability and meet the criteria. It is not for mainstream consumption.
Consider that the vast majority of people know how to use technology but have no idea of how it works. They think a computer is the shell program that loads when they turn it on and have no idea of the code that drives the shell program.
Consider that if you talk about a program many have no idea what you are talking about as that concept has been dumbed down to being called and ‘app’ and many would fail to realise that actually means an application which is a program.
Consider that some people think and call themselves ‘hacker’ because they downloaded a hacking program. They are not hackers, rather they are just mice running in a wheel created by someone else and they get to nibble a bit of cheese. Given that a hacker needs an access point to other computers these programs provide an easy way into another system and by default can open the door to other systems. A true or real hacker writes their own code designed to achieve a defined goal or outcome.
Consider that the smartphone that is welded to many people’s hands, and is an integral part of their life, it would be a mystery to them if they had to explain where the antenna is that allows all the functions that it does and communicate with the towers that send and receive the signals. The way that data works would also be a mystery. Ask them about an app and they can describe how they use it but would be clueless as to how it works. Face facts, most of us are merely consumers and not innovators, it has always been that way.
Now consider that feeling and opinion are more relevant than facts due to the advent of social media and things start to get scary. Especially given that following the crowd regards opinion is the sensible and safe path, for to have an opposing view is to leave yourself open to attack rather than debate.
No matter how you dress it up this is dangerous ground to travel upon.
Knowledge, real knowledge has been replaced by popular viewpoints that ‘educate’ on achieving a desired outcome and any dissenting view is seen as a threat to be immediately and strenuously attacked lest it be given some credence.
These promoters of popular viewpoints are sometimes little more than wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing and pretend to be paragons of virtue and integrity as they validate their viewpoint on the masses. They are the ones controlling information flows, and if not then they are restricting the free flow of ideas. They are manipulating information and knowledge by appealing to the lowest common denominator in the human psyche, and that denominator is fear.
The desire to be relevant and to be heard, the desire for there to be a meaning to their life just so long as is easy and requires little effort to achieve. The overwhelming desire to fit in by being a part of something. The desire to have something more than what they have. The propagation of the mob or herd mentality is a tried and tested way to achieve these things for any manipulator. In modernity we even gave it an acronym, FOMO meaning fear of missing out.
Despite all the advances of humanity, some things never really change.
The French revolution, Hitler’s Germany, and Stalin’s Russia are prime examples in modern history of how the masses were united to achieve an outcome that ultimately was about nothing more than greed and power for the instigators. History tells us these very things and yet we ignore the lessons from our own history. History also clearly illustrates the buyers remorse at the consequences of what entire populations allowed to happen, and indeed actively at times effected the path to change.
Ignorance is bliss until it comes time to pay the bill.
Knowledge, real knowledge comes from more than just a school education. A school education is the place you learn the fundamentals, and hopefully develop an inquiring mind.
For an inquiring mind is the engine that drives the quest for knowledge, without this there is very little. An inquiring mind builds intelligence and understanding from which new avenues are opened to be explored.
Without inquiring minds humanity would not have progressed as it has, for these minds are the drivers of all that we have achieved as a species.
Without inquiring minds it is impossible to imagine that humanity would have come very far at all. All human knowledge has been built on the avenues explored and created by inquiring minds. Yet these people with inquiring minds are generally belittled, derided, and ridiculed as being strange or geeks and nerds. They are the people who at school oftentimes stood alone and alienated, perhaps that is why they explored avenues of interest to them as they were largely excluded from the mainstream. Who really knows?
Suffice to say that the smartphone that is an integral part of society would not exist, the computer this is written on and the software that facilitates it would not exist, right down to the electricity that powers so much of our lives simply would not exist.
The geeks and nerds have built our modern world because they explored avenues that most others at the time would have scoffed at as being nothing more than foolish notions and dreams, or simply dull, boring, and too hard to contemplate. Yet here we are.
When you stop to consider these things it soon becomes apparent that knowledge is indeed power for the geeks and nerds, and in turn they wielded greater power than they could ever have imagined. They left the cool kids wondering what the hell happened. What happened is that being cool didn’t pay off the way that the pursuit and creation of knowledge did.
Wealth and power often go hand in hand yet some of our innovators never held great wealth, yet they held power, a strange dynamic but there are exceptions to every rule. The exceptions to the rule, globally, is held by just five main companies. Sure there are a few more but this is about the concentration of both wealth and power simply because they were the smartest fish in the pond, and it is held by these five American companies, all based in technology.
Regardless of this they remain the people who have shaped our modern world and continue to shape it, as do the geeks and nerds of every generation. Much of the time they are invisible to us as they quietly go about their business and their lives because we simply don’t want to see them. If we do see them, then we try to tear them down or belittle them as that makes us feel better about ourselves.
Sadly, sometimes these people and the things they build are corrupted and perverted, sometimes by themselves and sometimes by others. Such is the way of things with humanity.
A tortured child can, and sometimes does, extract their revenge on those they see as the tormentors. Some are just lacking in morals and values and follow their own perversions or perverted path as this gives them a power entirely of their own design. Some have their creations twisted and distorted by others to achieve a purpose that has no good intent.
Not everything created is for the good of humanity just as the paths that lead to things that serve the greater good are sometimes based in foul and evil practices. This is most clearly seen in human experimentation and on testing products on animals. Just as splitting the atom and the development of nuclear weapons achieved the end of World War Two and in turn opened a Pandora’s Box by means of an arms race. What was initially seen as the way to harness the energy of the atom for the greater good of humanity became a weapon.
Oppenheimer’s Deadly Toy.
Therefore, knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge is indeed a multi-faceted thing. It can be used for good and for evil, it can create, and it can destroy. It is nothing more than intent and application. Knowledge is a thing that all should strive to have and to grow, for without knowledge you are doomed to be one of the sheep that blindly follow. Worse you will create a life for yourself that you never imagined in comparison to the life you imagined you would have as you squandered the opportunity to learn and build from the knowledge you gained.
In the fullness of time we all experience the melancholy of lost times. Of opportunity in those younger years, and how some of those moments of opportunity were squandered in the pursuit of other things of lesser value when weighed up in the vast scheme of things. It is the melancholy of regret of paths not taken, that while harder to travel ultimately led to a better life.
You must weigh the relative value of the experiences had and the knowledge gained. While it may not lead to physical wealth, there are many other types of wealth in having lived dreams and done things that many others simply would not do. True wealth is oftentimes more than the amount of gold you can amass and the trinkets you can own.