Monday, June 26, 2006

The Death of Wisdom

Joe Carter asks: "Why do so many people buy into the ridiculous notion that a daily diet of 'current events’ is anything other than a mindless (though perhaps harmless) form of amusement? Even ardent news-hounds will admit that the bulk of daily 'news' is nothing more than trivia or gossip. How much of what happens every day truly is all that important? How many of us have ever even stopped to ask why we have daily news?"

He quotes University of Florida history professor C. John Sommerville's book, How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Age:

The product of the news business is change, not wisdom. Wisdom has to do with seeing things in their largest context, whereas news is structured in a way that destroys the larger context. You have to do certain things to information if you want to sell it on a daily basis. You have to make each day’s report seem important. And you do that by reducing the importance of its context.

Read the whole thing. Or better yet, pick up a book!

See also Alan Jacobs' Books & Culture essay on blogs as the friend of information but the enemy of thought.