In Formation?

“[What information consumes is] the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

This quote is attributed to Herbert Simon, a 1978 Nobel winner in economics. I saw it recently and my mind starting wandering…

The quote seems to be a clever comment about the overabundance of information (much of it useless) in society. However, it also could be perceived as a clever way of convincing people that the collecting of information for the purpose of forming opinions is fruitless. Why bother reading and trying to gather information if there is so much out there you can’t possibly tackle it – or better yet, ever hope to sort the worthwhile information from the worthless?

I’m not insinuating that Herbert Simon personally intended to mislead people with that statement. I am inferring that others could possibly use it as one of many clever tools in preventing people from attempting to inform themselves on complicated issues. Often, these issues aren’t actually complicated. They merely appear to be because members of the corporate information control field fear losing their stranglehold on “truth” – or, more specifically, what they preach as truth. They know that if the ability to sort through raw information and see patterns spread through the masses it could lead to an informed populace that isn’t easily manipulated into making decisions that go against their interests (particularly in the voting booth). So, they tell us that we shouldn’t waste our time attempting to navigate the difficult waters of information about issues that require a high level of intelligence and are too lengthy and full of technical jargon to bother with.

They convince us to go back to our mindless consumption of strategically managed information and dysfunctional entertainment. They assure us we can see snippets of easily digestible pabulum on popular news shows or websites when we have the time.

Actually, an overabundance of improperly organized information CAN (as opposed to “does”) lead to a poverty of attention. This is the cleverness shown by the corporate powers as they’ve switched gears in their Dumbing Down Plan. Previously, the strategy was simply to conceal the (most critical) information from the masses and release enough to allow the majority of the population to think that they are informed. In the age of the internet, since it’s easier to come across important information, they’ve enhanced their strategy by flooding the internet with a (potential) wealth of information without an intelligently thought out way of organizing it. People become overwhelmed with the sheer number of sources of raw information and, when they find summaries which are more easily digested, they feast on disingenuously worded propaganda which fits neatly into the very well thought out indoctrination process (as well as into the belief system the individual reader has invested so much time and energy in). It is one tool which, when coupled with the immensely successful technique of shortening attention spans with video games, moronic movies and television and the cleverly designed soundbite/talking point system of disseminating what passes for news, is extremely effective in preventing a majority of the masses from seeing through the smokescreens and discovering the true agenda of our corporate masters.

Of course, this is just one opinion in a society full of opinions, many of which either conform to the state religion of Consumerism or are convenient avenues of dissent that merely scratch the surface of what’s wrong in modern society and allow a certain amount of anger at the powers that be. It helps release just enough frustration to prevent the desperately needed revolution that would free the human race from its self-induced bondage of mental slavery.

4 comments on “In Formation?

  1. wishing you Happy Easter!
    may we live simply
    consume media mindfully
    and gently prepare
    for the revolution
    which will be live 🙂

  2. To live simply and consume mindfully is unpatriotic in the U.S and we’re so deeply entrenched in mindless consumerism that gently preparing for revolution probably wouldn’t cut it. 🙂 But the only way it can happen is for it to be live. It certainly won’t be televised.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Interesting perspective. Yes, it’s true the negative elements of society would employ any ruse to further their agenda. That is why objective facts and unbiased views of history are currently being overwhelmed by political extremism, primarily by the ascendant right-wing. However, we should resist the temptation to read too much into observations such as Simon’s which this caustic environment incites. Sometimes, the real meaning is very simple.

    >>> “Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

    I interpret his statement thusly. Since we now know that multitasking inhibits the deep concentration necessary for complex thinking, I believe Simon was making a simple yet profound observation on human cognition. People can devote a little time each for a great many easy problems, and people can devote a great deal of time to a few number of difficult problems, but they can’t do both. The rapid increase in information technology is therefore pushing the limits of human cognition.

  4. I agree completely. I didn’t intend to imply that there was anything negative about Simon’s comment. My mind took a jouney into the nether regions of human thought because I can’t help seeing the potential twists and turns of manipulation that is so common today.

    Right wing nutballs have actually gone on record saying that Sponge Bob and his friend Patrick were tools to push a “homosexual agenda” on children a few years back.

    President Carter imploring people in the U.S. to see Palestinians as fellow human beings that deserve rights like all other human beings was decried as hateful, anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist propaganda by the same type of people a few decades ago.

    Donating millions of dollars that was collected immorally by wealthy economic terrorists (and which represents a mere drop in the proverbial bucket) is spoken of in reverential terms by monkey-minded cheerleaders of Fundamentalist Capitalism.

    Bernie Sanders spending his entire adult life fighting for the rights of people throughout the world and identifying as a Socialist is seen by some wackos in this country as hateful, unpatriotic, pro-Communist propaganda and an attempt at destroying the United States.

    There are a lot of sick people out there and some of their disingenuous manipulations are cleverly hidden behind language that appears to be forthright and genuine. I enjoy writing things that provoke people into thinking a little different than they’re used to.

    Thanks for the comment.

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