I recorded this episode of “The Context” on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine.
I don’t know what will happen in the next few days, but it’s guaranteed that there will be a lot of confusion, and our ability to make sense of the world will also depend on the kind of tools that we use to interpret the information that we receive.
We receive information from a wide variety of sources to a degree that hasn’t happened before. We have television, YouTube, and other video content online. We have journalistic sources, as well as crowdsourced intelligence information that is coming from people on the ground. Most of us are not equipped with the tools that enable the correct aggregation and synthesis of these pieces of information.
In the past, we would rely on professional journalists to complete this task. Over the past 10 years or so, many people have started to look at the work of journalists as not only chronicling what is happening objectively, but giving a slant by expressing their point of view, or the point of view of their editorial board. There are many reasons, but this is a paradox; drinking from the firehose of information is beyond our human individual capacity, and we don’t trust the interpretation and aggregation of the news by professionals.
Understanding that we are individually biased, and that our various sources are also unavoidably biased, should not reduce us to a paralyzed position of cynicism. Instead, it can be substituted by a more proactive stance with the help of innovative tools, like Improve the News.
Developed by MIT professor and researcher Max Tegmark and his group, Improve the News allows you to explore different points of view, and understand their merit, being exposed to them in a controlled fashion. Even if you end up confirming that you keep disagreeing with the alternative points of view, you can incorporate your knowledge of them in your worldview, to improve your future decisions.