As much as I like the good things that have come with it, I think we are now finally seeing the results of the Google generations. Knowledge used to be difficult and hard to gain, requiring going to school and university for years, or to libraries, and digging through archives, registries and hundreds if not thousands of books in a lifetime, line by line. Today, for good and bad, it is very different, and data is just a keyword entry away.
However, as online debates move quickly, and are commonly not based on *actual* knowledge, but rather on quickly and superficially collected data, this data is never really given any in depth analysis, and the sources it is collected from is never really read in full, no matter if it is a simple blog or a full scientific/academic report. This superficial and incomplete “knowledge” is with time amassed, forming a block of believed “truths”, built on often misinterpreted or mismatched uncorrelated data, and not seldom contradicted by the very sources the data is collected from.
Inevitably this disconnect leads to a belief that the self-collected “knowledge” is as valid as formal research, because the data is there, “available” to everyone, and also to conflicts and even a, in places, growing disregard for science and academia. In fact self-collected knowledge is even considered *better*, as the education received at school and university is seen as rooted in political indoctrination, whilst the personal views are “objective” and untainted.
This is exactly what was debated and feared by teachers about 20 years ago, seeing how pupils believed everything they found online, never thinking deeper about what they read. And here we are, with those kids in their 30s now. Knowledge has turned into a consumer product that we get quickly, use and then lose, with everyone briefly being knowledgeable on the latest chosen topic of discussion.
Simply put: Take your time, don’t cherry-pick, and check your sources.