Rethinking Knowledge

Rethinking Knowledge


HostJohn B. Wells

GuestsDavid Weinberger, Douglas Dietrich

Researcher and author David Weinberger joined John B. Wells to discuss how living in the Internet age has reshaped the way we think about knowledge. "The Internet is changing some very settled ideas that we have about what knowledge is, what counts as knowledge and, therefore, our view as knowers," he said. For much of the past 2,500 years paper has been used to communicate and preserve knowledge, he explained, noting how limitations of the medium, such as expense and space, have required knowledge to be shaped and filtered. According to Weinberger, our curiosity was in some ways stifled by paper. However, this is no longer the case as the Internet offers virtually unlimited capacity and the ability to take one's curiosity in any direction it wants, he added.

In every field the Internet has advanced the pursuit of knowledge and helped us to know a world that is much bigger than individual brains can manage, Weinberger continued. At the same time this incredible access to vast amounts of information can be both overwhelming and liberating. Even though there are hundreds of billions of pages online, we no longer have to decide how it all fits together, Weinberger suggested. There can be as many different ways of organizing our world as we want, he said. As Weinberger sees it, the challenge in an age where anyone can say anything, some things which may even be at odds with the truth, is learning to live productively and at peace with one another in our disagreements. This is an important evolutionary transition for our species, as significant as when humans first learned to read and write, Weinberger declared.

Veterans Day Thoughts

In the first hour, renegade military historian Douglas Dietrich offered his thoughts in light of Veterans Day. It is standard policy for the U.S. government to keep secrets from taxpayers and to routinely destroy older records, Dietrich revealed. One story for which the records may not tell the full account is the plight of military men and women exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons, he said. According to Dietrich, these Atomic Veterans were intentionally sent into Hiroshima and Nagasaki and as well as exposed to atmospheric nuclear tests so that doctors could measure symptoms of radiation sickness as the soldiers deteriorated. Thousands contracted cancer as a result though the government claims such tests never happened, he noted. Dietrich also commented on General Petraeus, the CIA, and the Vietnam War, which he estimated was participated in by some 30 million soldiers despite what the official records say.



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