Knowledge in the age of the Internet

2 min read


 This meme follows on from the previous one, thematically speaking. What is (true, justified) knowledge today? It is unfortunately to be noted that, generally speaking, we do not draw our convictions from scientific studies, but at most via news articles about such studies. The process that takes place is usually that from a scientific criteria secured knowledge a dilution to a mere opinion takes place. One of the reasons for this is that schools generally do not teach the level of media literacy needed to distinguish between a finding and an opinion. Many news articles are more like a gloss without being labeled as such. But why is it only at university that people learn what "peer reviewed," "meta-study" or "statistical significance" mean? In addition, there is the effect of "confirmation bias," the overabundance of information, and technical reproducibility as an accelerating factor in the distribution of information. Show me a study and I will find you one that "proves" exactly the opposite. To some extent, we are all constantly "conclusion shopping"; we can't help it. But what would be the solution to this? To simply not take everything so seriously? But shouldn't we take precisely issues like social participation, climate change, or worsening social inequality very seriously?

As an extreme to this, conspiracy theories arise and with them the symptom of a scientifically hostile audience, which is to some extent small but very loud. Nonsense is usually spread faster than carefully formulated and considered findings. The accusation of scientism is becoming louder and louder, although this is rarely justified if at least the principle of the fundamental possibility of falsification of a thesis is understood. So what would be the alternative? Also, to impute "postmodernism" as an accusation seems to be exclusively destructive - or should I say "deconstructivist" - in nature. If we haven't heard anything from Karl Popper in school, then we should rather trust the scientists and not the interest- and profit-oriented media houses. In any case, the scientists still seem to be the better choice in terms of gradualism, even if one can impute interests to them, and it would be desirable if this remained the case.

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