Knowledge has advanced greatly just within my relatively short lifetime.
The internet, of course, has grown exponntially which has brought social media and alternative media. This has made knowledge more widely available and more easily accessible, but it has also opened up dialogue. If you write a blog post about some particular place (country, city, region, etc), it is qute likely that someone from that place or familiar with that place will respond in the comments. I find myself regularly interacting with people I would never have met prior to the internet.
There is also a general increase in data, especially demographics and polls. This partly is just because there are more organizations gathering data and naintaining databases. Computers have made it easier and cheaper to store data. Plus, companies offering data services have become profitable such as genealogy websites.
Even scientific data has become more accessible. The ease of data gathering now makes scientific research easier and cheaper. Along with adverisers, scientists have been sifting through the vast repositories of data.
It was the scientific angle that got me thinking. Every ideology and opinion is potentially a hypothesis to be tested. However, some ideologies predispose individuals to holding opinions of mistrust or even denialism toward scientists and others who gather and/or analyze data. Some people respond to new info with excitement and curiosity while others respond with fear and defensiveness.
Some of this is just personality differences. Whatever the cause, it creates a strange predicament for our info saturated modern society.
For most of human existence and civilization, humans just muddled along with no hope of learning much about the world around them. If you had an idea and the power to enforce it, you could create a religion or government and that was just the way it was. There was no scientifically testing of claims about someone’s idea being better than someone else’s. Jesus existed because the church said so and there were no academic historians to challenge that claim. A particular country was the best because the king said so and there was no scientist to do a cross-nationl analysis.
All of that has changed. There is no claim that has remained safe from questions and criticisms, from study and analysis. If you believe that some system is more efficient or some group more biased or whatever else, then it is your responsibility to prove it. However, there are some people who don’t like this. It makes me wonder what they are afraid of. Why wouldn’t a person want to know that their belief isn’t supported b the evidence? What is so horrible about changing one’s mind?
A new generation has grown up in this information age and they never experienced the world that came before. They are perfectly comfortable with all the information overload. They have more trust in science (and less blind faih in religion). As the older generations retire and die, what kind of world will the younger generations create in the coming decades?