Thursday, December 15, 2005

Being "Information-Smart" vis-a-vis the Buddha

In a broad sense, being "Information Smart" or "Information Savvy" means knowing how to search and discern relevant and useful information from the rest of heap (be it from online or print sources).

Libraries and librarians espouse this, even more so in the context of the Internet and search engines (i.e. some people find a webpage, read its content, and think that it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth).

You can easily find references on evaluating online sources, like these ones here, here and here. Preetam posted this ("how to tell a good source from a not so good one") with particular references to blogs and wikis.

But apparently the Buddha had already taught about the concept of information discrimination:
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

I read about this from Euan Semple's blog, who got it from Gia's. I don't think Gia had information literacy in mind but that's how I saw it when I read that quote from Buddha.

Which also reminded me of a library science research (by Carol C. Kuhlthau, if I'm not mistaken) that suggests people seek information to support what they choose to know or what they want to verify, rather than "truth" per se.

Humans are creatures of habit. That's why we find "change" so disruptive. And that's why I think we have a greater tendency (probably unconsciously) to read and seek information that supports what we already believe in, and dismiss the rest as "noise".

Or is this flawed thinking on my part?


1 comment:

  1. very much depends on the subject matter and how intimately we know the subject matter at hand.

    For those that we know little or not know, we may adopt a more open mind and accept what we read and see.

    Others as in those we know a little more, we would adopt a more "defensive" stance and see who is able to challenge me in my knowledge.

    Perhaps then this is what is known as being "open minded"


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