The Information Skill is that skill that enables us to find, collect, sort, manage and use information that is relevant to problems we need to solve and issues we need to address.
It is the antecedent of the Analysis Skill where the information is utilized in an intelligent and logical manner.
The information skill is often abused for two reasons:
- The individual gathering the information is incompetent or careless; or
- The individual clearly understands the fundamentals of information in the logical thought process and decides to use “alternative facts.”
For a valid logical argument, the information that is the foundation for findings and conclusions needs to be true.
Remember this expression: P → Q where
- “P” is the hypothesis or a set of findings, and
- “Q” is the conclusion.
In a logical argument,
- If “P” is true, then “Q” can be true;
- If “P” is NOT true, then “Q” will be either true or not true – or simply whatever you want it to be.
Accordingly, if one is desiring to draw a conclusion that will please a superior or and audience (read potential voters), the manipulation of “P” is essential. This is where “alternative facts” come into play. They can lead your audience like a bunch of Shropshire sheep to whatever conclusion you want. The truth doesn’t matter!
From what I understand, “alternative facts” are whatever you want them to be – so long as what you use will lead to the conclusion you want.
Having faith in something doesn’t necessarily make it true, contrary to some opinions from the religious right. The implications of drawing conclusions simply on faith are invalid – even though the conclusion might make one feel good.
There is a psychological term called the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” which is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability to be greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability.
In effect, people who exhibit the Dunning-Kruger Effect don’t know that they don’t know something, so they are highly susceptible to an argument based on “alternative facts.”
If the individual who is making the argument knows what his/her audience wants to hear, he/she can be confident that those who exhibit the Dunning-Kruger effect will lap up whatever he/she says. (Click HERE for more information about the Dunning-Kruger Effect)
Another more serious problem is that many people don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand truth from fiction and often simply don’t even care – so long as what a speaker says or a writer writes is what they want to hear.
To them, critical thinking is difficult. So why do any thinking at all when someone can simply give you a conclusion based on “alternative facts?”
The implications for a skilled politician who knows what his/her audience or base wants to hear and simply makes up “alternative facts” to satisfy their appetite and listen to them cheer or chant is terrifying.
This was precisely the technique that Adolph Hitler used so effectively in gaining power in Germany in the 1930’s. If people don’t want to take the time and THINK, then they should be careful what they are wishing for and supporting – – – they just might get it.