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Are we collapsing through information overload?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 28, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Do you comit with Jon Young words? That we are overloaded by infromation? http://www.8giftsfromnature.com/sp/5637-the-8-gifts-from-nature-online-course

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:21 PM

Hah yea i made an appearance in that thread

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:19 PM

But here ya go...http://paleohacks.com/questions/73226/life-without-tv-internet-iphones-what-was-it-like-psychologically#axzz1c7VkHJAD...been discussed recently I believe.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:06 PM

But if you order now you could get 3 more sets for your friend...AND i'll knock off the third payment....you heard me I'm CRAZY! Inner peace for the insanely low price of 67.95!

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4 Answers

1
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:29 PM

The issue doesn't seem to be information, per se. I mean we all have a huge capacity for retaining knowledge once we get in the habit of learning a lot, and it isn't like it's inherently detrimental. There are two people in the world with no greater mental capacity than each other, but one has 10 times the available information and is doing just fine. Look at masters of their domains with a seemingly endless reservoir of readily available knowledge, who engage their minds in learning and analyzing for hours every day, but who don't exhibit any negative effects from it. It's not information, or even thinking time. But I see what is being said and there is a problem related to information. It is in the way in which information is processed.

The guys in this video are advocating mindfulness meditation or other mind resetting techniques, just taking a break from thoughts and emotion for a while to let the brain reset. The problem that this fixes is overly sensitive neurons that fire too easily and rapidly; when the neurons are constantly firing at the drop of a hat, it tends to produce anxiety and reduced mental capacity. If the brain is always buzzing with thoughts, it probably isn't working at is optimal capacity, and this might be construed as "information overload", but that is probably a misnomer, it isn't necessarily having to do with information but a certain kind of thought pattern.

I don't mean to sound like a pedant, I just don't want anybody to get the idea that they need less information, or even need to think less, but I agree that it is a good idea to take time to reset so when they are learning and thinking it is more productive and healthy. Taking time out of one's day to reset the mind can probably enable the retention of more information and can enable better quality thinking. Sometimes it sounds like this message is spun in an anti-intellectual manner or as a rationalization for not knowing much of anything. Words like "information sickness" are a good example of the importance of correct diction. Some of his statements are good, like getting better acquainted with the senses and opening up to the entirety of possible experience. In his book "Flow", Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses this too, but he doesn't spin it in the same way. He has been one of the greatest minds in the science of minds for much of his life and certainly isn't hurting from too much information. The thirst for new knowledge can be one of the most rewarding endeavors there is if managed well.

0
38fca13acabddf7b9c54098507e4041a

on October 29, 2011
at 02:06 AM

No I agree with Scott Sonnon-- you go from the simple to the sophisticated. If you can't process the information just forget about it.

0
Medium avatar

(19479)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:42 PM

To paraphrase Nicholas Nassim Taleb, am I more "informed" (capable of making predictions, assessing, etc.) if I read a newspaper once a week or if I read a newspaper daily?

With the once per week paper reading, I benefit from a reduction in "noise". The stories that are featured in the weekend edition have been sorted and filtered out from all the events of the previous week.

With the daily newspaper, I am subject to the signal noise to a greater extent. Filler, erroneous information, etc. is featured which may obscure my ability to discern patterns.

Studies have shown that more information actually impairs our ability to predict by virtue of the confirmation bias and the stickiness of judgments (once we have an idea about something, we treat it like a possession, defending it and protecting it.)

One study in particular featured an obscured shape (in this case, a fire hydrant). Group A was shown 5 increasingly clearer images. Group B was shown a gradually clearer picture (essentially hundreds or thousands of steps, i.e. more "information").

The result showed that group A was able to predict that the object was a fire hydrant earlier than group b. Group b's confirmation bias set in and they had a harder time shaking it.

This may seem like an irrelevant example, but in today's 24hr news cycle (and the internet's constant stream of minute to minute bits and bytes) we are able to "tunnel" deeper into our biases and to lose sight of patterns, even if they are right in front of our eyes.

In the diet and exercise world, we see this play out in the persistence of "body image". While someone's co-workers, friends, or family can easily discern changes (from subtle to significant), our own body image, and a body with which we posses vastly more information than any other person, is stubbornly persistent. This is why I direct people to take "before", "during", and "after" pictures of themselves when they start a diet/exercise program. Our abundance of self-knowledge only tunnels us deeper into our biases, blinding us to unexpected changes.

0
5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:54 PM

For what it's worth, I think information has the potential to be harmful and we have to be really careful about the restrictions we impose on ourselves. Our body's signals should generally take precedence to our intellectualized conceptions of proper nutrition.

Of course, this is probably only marginally related to that sales page I didn't bother to read.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:21 PM

Hah yea i made an appearance in that thread

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:19 PM

But here ya go...http://paleohacks.com/questions/73226/life-without-tv-internet-iphones-what-was-it-like-psychologically#axzz1c7VkHJAD...been discussed recently I believe.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:06 PM

But if you order now you could get 3 more sets for your friend...AND i'll knock off the third payment....you heard me I'm CRAZY! Inner peace for the insanely low price of 67.95!

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