#734…sci, relig, ETC: “How to Handle So Much Information?”


   We have the capacity to encounter

   so much new information.


   How should I handle this?


   The answer came to me as I was waking up one morning last week.

So take into account the sorcery of the source…


For that you’ll need to use the DOOR, however.




   There are–now–4 categories into which I can dump new info:


   (1)  Needs & News

   (2)  Interests

   (3)  Markers

   (4)  Noise


   Now let me discuss these one at a time. First, I must locate my clothes, food, and everything else that starts me off. This is very ordinary stuff, but it really matters especially if I’m heading outside. And of course there responsibilities here and there. Then there’s news of several types: local, regional, national, international, the important list my wife has made for me, and so on. I need to be somewhat informed about the ABC’s of many things to be reasonably successful and worthy of the human encounters that lie ahead.

   Second, there is the matter of what I’m interested in–which for me is often wide-ranging in my latter years. There’s the matter of the articles or fiction I’m writing. Perhaps it needs some adding to, editing, or revising. Then there’s the adding to my political perspective as well as my specialized interests in facts and issues of aging, being a better husband and father, family history, science and change, quantum theory, the Bible, biocentrism, and the 1903 railway tunnel in Kingsley, PA to name a few. Each thinking person has his own panoply (or a “package” if  seems less than that) of ideas that tumble around around in his head from dawn to dusk and, as I can attest to, into and through the night.

   Third: Markers. There’s things, sources, ideas I come across that I want to add to my memory bank: important stuff, neat stuff, new discoveries in many areas–to the world or maybe just to me. Let me illustrate one that you’ll probably consider trivial. But give me a 12-second (or so) chance. I’m sure you recall the “uncuttable” bit called a proton that with other protons and “uncuttable” neutrons that pack into the nuclei of “uncuttable” atoms. And each proton has a “plus 1 charge” and each neutron a “0 charge” and so on. Now enter quantum theory which even small particle physicists sometimes call “spooky” (as Einstein did) or “weird.” Well, most of that stuff about protons and neutrons–but not all–is yesterday’s news. There are even smaller particles called quarks of which there are 6 kinds. We’ll mention just 2 of them, the “up quark” and  “down quark” and 3 facts about them. (1) They’re now considered the fundamental particles, however they can’t exist outside of other particles. (2) 3 quarks make up 1 proton, and 3 quarks make up one neutron. (3) Up quarks have a 2/3 + charge and down quarks have a 1/3 – charge. Do you see a problem coming up? Hint: It involves the fractional charges. And if you’re at a super modern school that doesn’t teach fractions any more, you’re at a loss! Here’s how things pan out. Protons have 2 up quarks and 1 down quark (total 3); neutrons have 1 up quark and 2 down quarks (total 3). See how the charge works out to “1” and “0”? [2.3 + 2/3 – 1/3 = 3/3 = 1 and  2/3 – 1/3 -1/3 = 0] Voila! If my nose sniffs out new definitions of “time” and “space,” I want to know what they are and where this information comes from so I can think about them at night in bed. And later go back to a source. There’s much, much more (and larger) things than quantum theory, however. Responsible and respected “markers” identify what to take seriously in any area of life, never discounting your experience, however.

   Fourth:  Noise. This great term was introduced to me by my first cousin once removed who teaches at a large university. In the mountains of new information about everything that we let surround us we can pick through it according to whatever, but what we mainly do is ignore it. If so, we find ourselves in good company.

The chair of Biological Sciences at Columbia Univ. biochemist Stuart Firestein says:
“…Scientists have had to fall back on another strategy for the mountain of information: we largely ignore it.”
–Scientific American (April 2012, p.1)

   So to live is to ignore–for we have no other choice. For all of us out there most of the “knowledge parade” is simply a cacophony–just noise to what we’ve found that matters.

   But the wise man will not completely plug his trained ears. Others, of course, are marching along but with different information in front of them. Enter marketing–which we will not discuss.


Happy Birthday on Oct. 1, Karen!

Author: John Knapp