Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)

24 thoughts on “Converting Information into Knowledge

  1. franklparker

    Two quotes that completely negate the premise of this essay: 1. ” the source of [information] is quite irrelevant.” 2. “it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969.”
    IMHO, knowing the source of 2 is necessary in order to evaluate the likelihood of its truth.
    Also IMHO, the motivation for space exploration is the same as the motivation that took millions of Europeans to the Americas in the 18th and 19th centuries – the search for space in which to expand; land on which to grow crops and beneath which to discover minerals that can be converted into objects of value. As for the MIC, that exists to protect what was discovered from the next wave of immigrants. No conspiracy, just human greed and ambition at work.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Well Frank, if there had been an actual “moon landing, or landings” back when, it would not have been in the quest for arable land or exotic minerals considering the astronomical costs presumably involved when right here on planet earth all the stuff required by the corporates for expansion and growth was as easily grabbable as destabilizing a Third World government and economy and taking over exploiting and extorting! When I think that the computers you and I used in the mid eighties were much more sophisticated than anything NASA had to work with in 1969 to successfully fly, land and safely return a manned moon shot, I want to shake my head at people’s gullibility and their desperate need to believe it’s possible to follow Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein out into space and colonize… as if it was a matter of crossing an ocean on earth. The point of the essay however was to describe a way to exchange information into knowledge. Perhaps I should have said “personal” knowledge. You see, as long as we insist on relying on some source instead of drawing our own conclusions, we remain firmly entrenched in a faith system. Many are those who have ditched their belief in some religious god only to plunge the same mindset into other sets and subsets of faith-based concepts they can never directly prove as true for themselves. Enter trust… i.e., belief, i.e., faith. I say milk the cow and drink the milk, don’t wait until it returns to you via a dairy display case at the box store. If you buy it from the store any claim of knowing its source is bogus. You can’t know so you will have to say, “milk is milk” and accept that. Alternatively you could choose not to partake of dairy products any longer… i.e., you could choose to reject everything that screams of propaganda.

  2. rawgod
    I could not find the actual video/movie I was looking for, but Mikhail Gorbachev agreed, it was the Beatles who defeated the Soviet Union. This is as true as it gets.
    It is not a “truism” that exceptions prove the rule, but rather that they prove the rule is debatable, so therefore not a rule at all. I’m not sure what it is you are trying to get people to believe here, S’T, it is certainly true that information is neutral on its own, and it is our perception or belief that makes it useful to various parties, but in 1969 I watched that little rocket ship fly towards the moon, as did many others. What would have been the purpose of perpetrating such a hoax on the people of the world. The USA’s main opponents, the Soviet Union, would have been up in arms if the whole things had been a hoax. So would a lot of other nations. The moon was a big target at the time, everyone wanted to be the first ones there. They would would have made mincemeat out of false American claims.
    There are a lot of fact claims made in this world I do not buy (some of which are probably true). And there are a lot of false claims that are true. But where does that really get us. We hear something, or read it, but because we are not involved we can never know for sure. Even though I was not there, I believe Trump separated kids from their parents at the Mexican border, and didn’t care or bother to keep track of them. They’re all terrorists after all, even if they are only 6 months old! This is worth bothering about, caring about. Two men on the moon 50 years ago, no, it’s not worth my time.
    Found it.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I wasn’t “trying to get people to believe” anything, quite the opposite, rawgod. If you think you don’t need to believe, that’s my point. When you say, ‘two men on the moon 50 years ago not worth my time’ that is an example of thinking, not of believing. BTW the Soviet Union wasn’t defeated, as such, it just got a new mission statement and a realignment of priorities. The old had become stagnant and new voices wanted to be heard, and to get power. BTW also, the only “Cold War” was the propaganda. The USSR was fully in cahoots with NASA on the Apollo program – they struck a deal, simple.

  3. Phil Huston

    I worked with a big black lady at a restaurant when I was 16. We both came in early to set up. She did make ready on the salads with lettuce I’d washed in chemicals and the best damn onion rings on the planet. Ond day we were talking, 1969, she said “Moon? Honey ain’t nobody done walked on da moon.”
    The other part, married to a professor, is kids don’t know how to think. Process. Synthesize. Tell me what I’m supposed to say/write/think and if you don’t Twitter will. Insane. This class I took? All opinion, all readily available on the internet for fucking free. Why? Maybe good for someone who can’t think or research or balance input from a number of sources and get in touch with their soul and see how they feel about it. Complete bullshit, you know? Is no one in touch these days? Rant over. Good post.Anyhing that makes you think, right, agree or not?

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      WP wiped out my comment… what a surprise. Yes I agree with you Phil, that was the “underlying” point of the essay: Are you thinking or just Googling and agreeing/disagreeing? The point in this case, that the moon landings accomplished nothing in terms of bettering mankind is totally lost. Shouldn’t that have been the whole point of the exercise? Here we are, supposed to be these educated types with our trust firmly in the rightness of “Science” as the new god of the age and we’ve learned nothing because we can’t follow through on cause and effect. We don’t know, don’t want, to reason through anything. The point is, the moon landings, even had they been possible, even had they happened, remain a massive hoax and joke upon the entire human race. But only a thinking person with a sense of empathy I suppose, can “see” this. You got it, it’s all about exercising the grey matter.

      1. Phil Huston

        Me, I put more trust in good onion rings and homespun philospophy than any government. I mean why the hell go to the moon if we don’t bring back the cure for cancer or some green cheese?

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        That is the point, exactly. Why do people insist on remaining such trusting, believing fools? The powers that be can use them, abuse them, lie to them, cheat them, jail them and kill them and they will continue to play their losing game, voting,
        believing, cheering, encouraging and paying for the privilege to be raped by their elites. Frustrating. Could write more but this phone keyboard is also frustrating!

  4. mcaimbeul

    I like the post. It brings up a valuable argument regarding the weakness of a thought process that’s become so prevalent today.
    Regarding the lunar landing by humans I’m open to both arguments but believe no one has the right to violate the moon. In Michener’s book ‘Space’ he uses a great anology to discribe what was involved in achieving such an event. It would be like someone in L.A. California throwing a basketball and making a basket in New York’s Madison Square Gardens stadium. In my humble opinion the only valuable thing to come out of space exploration per se is the residual consumer products and photos. Other than that it’s the old military tactic of ‘gain the high ground.’

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you. I like your thought on violation of the moon. After what we’ve done to planet Earth, what gall to expect to be able to export our corruption to other world and plant our flags on them? Then start new wars, that being the mindset that a little trip through space does not expunge. I also like your open mind – and that is what I was attempting to convey. Personally I don’t care if man ever landed on the moon or not, I care about what resulted from such a “glorious” effort that got the whole world watching and cheering.

      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        That’s great! I’d like to make that claim also but I think it would be hypocritical – too many junctions where “participation” becomes mandatory, even if just exchanging money for food and having to work for that money. Still I do fight back in the amount of “contribution” I give to the Earthian madness. Careful what I get involved in. I quit doing religion long ago and that put me on a path of reasoning the why of things. Soon after I quit voting and then I abandoned all other “belonging” commitments to groups and societies. I became an observer and thinker and that led to what I believe is self empowerment. I make up my own mind about everything; I don’t accept or reject based on someone else’s opinion. If it doesn’t feel right I don’t go there. Constantly converting information into useful knowledge.

      2. mcaimbeul

        I’ve been fortunate. You might not be a wilderness hermit Sha but you live the talk and carry the spirit through your words. A most valuable touchstone for us hermits and a grand ‘hint of suggestion’ for others, I see much conviction and courage.

  5. Hyperion

    Hi Sha’Tara! I’ve been fighting demons and loosing but we called a truce so I could at least blog a little and catch my breath. The demons realize that fighting a worn out soul is no fun. I’ve really missed your blog and your deep insights into the human mind. Totally agree that our modern interpretation of information is far worse than the superstitious acts of ignorance fueled by avarice, power mongering, and wealth in the past because it was widely believed that screwing the other person was more fun than getting screwed. I will attempt to quote my favorite line from Mark Twain, a true wise man. The truth remains true whether we chose to believe it or not. We do still have a choice even under the most draconian rule. We chose and suffer the rewards of our choice. Technology is advancing rapidly and technology is answering long standing questions about our universe and life. But does any of it matter? Does the objective truth on any subject really matter? Would our lives be better if every human knew the objective facts about every subject? I have my opinion which is conspiracy theory is the modern rumor mill and with the internet anything can be twisted to prove any false belief is true and any undeniable fact is deniable. Then we choose. AND, this is far more entertaining than crossword puzzles my grandmother used to do with religious like fervor. We lived our youth without the electronic noise of information overload and my mind was quiet and at peace. I could listen in class for long periods of time and in the quiet of the countryside, I did my homework because I believed that education was important. Later, I believed that having a girlfriend was far more important than education. I hadn’t learned balance yet. I’m pretty sure my strong beliefs got me a lot of ass whippings. I hadn’t learned to keep opposing thoughts to myself yet. Later, I realized after spending a lot of time in unfriendly populations across the world that humans really muck up the place. Talk about pointless existence, we bipedal hominids are truly pointless. The river otter outsmarts the snapping turtle, kills it and eats only the chewy inside parts and leaves the carcass for the rest of nature to deal with. He sleeps well with a full belly and there are more snapping turtles left for later. Nature is beautiful and merciless and is self correcting when balance gets skewed in the wrong direction. If we were natural creatures, having enough snapping turtles or mastodons to eat would be our main focus. Sadly, we are not truly natural creatures if we ever were. Nature will starve us and we will know tremendous thirst. We will eat our smartphones and find them unpalatable. Our knowledge of blackholes and silly moon landing stories will fail to raise a crop to eat. Finally, my comment is as pointless as I am. My question to all the knowledgeable out there is, what really matters. Is it objective truth or is it the skill to assimilate and survive. Is it water, food, clothing, and shelter combined with a sense of useful purpose and achievement that matters or is it mastery of google and wiki-whatever? Inquiring pointless person wants to know. 😉

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Well Hype, you and I are in the same boat, available-time-wise! I just finished dinner after a full 13 hour day wood splitting and putting some finishing touches on a cabin that’s been patiently waiting to be completed for months! And the point of all this work? Some, of course, is satisfying, but is it really necessary? Or totally pointless? I’ve always tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to push my life towards the spiritual, the esoteric, the more “out there” reality in order to make sense of this little life that if lived selfishly does become utterly pointless. This personal quest has change my outlook, from survival to sharing with, and helping others, i.e. it has made me more of a compassionate being. And that is what life is all about for me now: to give more and take less and to understand how experiencing joy and sorrow creates a new kind of balance within me that living the strictly Earthian life simply will never allow. Like your revenants in “Return of the Dragons” some of us become aware of our real selves as we find ourselves literally walking between worlds, going back in forth through time and space and thus empowering ourselves beyond the reach of the Matrix or the Establishment. That is what I like about your story, and equally, about George’s “Random Walk Through Intelligent Universe.” These people walk between worlds already, or they are teaching themselves to do so. Thanks for your comment, Hype, appreciated!

      1. Hyperion

        This is why I enjoy you so much Sha’Tara. You are wise and you don’t mind sharing. I’m not totally there yet so I do have to ponder things a bit more with the inevitable risk of incorrect outcomes. I spend most of my waking hours inside my own head to the chagrin of those around me, but I’m good with that. Compassion. I am in the death throws of my worst episode of PTSD in many years. It was triggered by my rescue of a completely destroyed soul, a woman only 33 years old. Her eyes and manner were exactly like those women and young girls we rescued from a prison camp in the Balkan War that were starved, raped, beaten, and often murdered in the cruelest of ways. The eyes of the living and the dead were the same. I had to turn her over to the police who took her to a hospital. It was the only meaningful thing I could do besides offer comfort without judgement. I’ve been haunted by her and all the others since. Compassion, when felt instead of acted, can suck the life out of me but I will choose compassion over self preservation always. Life is better when its simple, agrarian, and as close to nature and in balance as possible. I don’t mind a short good life. I prefer it over a long miserable life. Our world is headed back to misery in that grand cycle of history. Most of our misery is avoidable and pointless self affliction. But you have seen the path in both directions and understood it. Your admirable guidance through this pointless existence is the North Star to all of us navigators who wish to know where we are going even if we can’t know what is there when we arrive. I am jealous. I have no wood to chop or cabin to rest in. But, I did have one and the fond memories sustain me.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Hi again,Hype. First the wood splitting and cabin, that’s contract work and with Summer in the offing, the cabin owner was getting antsy to move in. She’s a good sport though and understands the time pressures we’re all under. Otherwise, well, I will accept your observations re: my wisdom… I know I have garnered some over the years because it was imperative for me to “get in there” in order to begin understanding life, this world, people. If what I have is truly wisdom, Hype, then that would explain why I can speak “authoritatively” about compassion. I don’t think one is possible without the other. The wise person understands that life is truly all about giving of one’s self (however the opportunities present themselves, no need to go looking, hah!) but this giving only makes sense when it comes from compassion. The usual “charitable” or “philanthropic” giving does not address the giver’s basic selfish nature, hence why such things don’t work. Rich and religious people give off the top, usually expecting some sort of recognition for it, either in adulation or tax breaks, whereas the compassionate person seeks to hide her choices, letting the results speak for themselves. Some people say nice things about us the compassionate types but we always know it’s because they cannot see deep within our own mind/heart. If they could see who we really are they would be shocked to realize we are just like them – not a single thing about us that would make us stand out in a crowd. Then they too would gain the wisdom that says, hey, look, I can do what she does, I can be just like her, and I could even be better at it. Wow!
        There is so much wisdom in your comment, Hype. I’ve read it over and over and I come back to that statement: “Compassion, when felt instead of acted, can suck the life out of me but I will choose compassion over self preservation always.” That’s what I’d call Wisdom – yes, with a capital letter. You saw hell before and you just saw it again and for the compassionate, indeed it sucks the life out of one… unless one learns to exist in total detachment. My religion taught me that hell was the abode of sinners after death but I soon learned that hell is right here when we look at this world with the discerning eyes of compassion. There is no need for any other hell, it would be redundant. I don’t give advice, or so I claim, but what has saved me over and over since that “great awakening” on April 19, 1979, was accepting the necessity of living my life through detachment, thus, and as you say, allowing all and sundry to make their own choices, good or bad in my opinion, and carrying on. Those I tried to help and have fallen by the wayside made a choice, followed their own, ultimately sacred path, and it’s just fine with me now. The sign said “sharp left turn ahead” and I took the turn. That the road was washed out by a flash flood beyond the bend, I could not have known, nor could the crew that put the left turn sign up. Whose to blame then? No one. There is no blame.

      3. Hyperion

        I could sit and listen to you for hours, but then you wouldn’t get your chores done and I would become a nuisance. I did find a strong detachment even a stoic existence in the past. As I get older, my defenses weaken and my detachment wanes as empathy, love, and compassion grows. I don’t want to back away from that and my past taught me how critical empathy, love, and compassion is because I have witnessed the result of their opposite. The Hell of religion is a vast shelter for people who have displeased others. Just like here on earth. At least now, I know the difference. There is so much good to be found here. It’s those small acts of kindness from the heart that counts. The rest is an advertisement for something always just out of reach.

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Quote: “There is so much good to be found here. It’s those small acts of kindness from the heart that counts. The rest is an advertisement for something always just out of reach.” Another “quotable quote” from Hyperion.
        I have to remember to do some more ‘splanin’ about detachment. For now, let me repeat, detachment isn’t stoicism at all. I have discovered that the more detached I make myself in relation to others, the more they and I become honestly aware of each other. My detachment puts people at ease automatically. They know that if I make a claim to do with something I have full autonomy over, that will hold true. They also know there is no point “BS’ing” me about themselves, the things they own or their accomplishments because, well, I will not be impressed; it won’t matter to me. It’s not that I don’t care about the people but my ‘caring’ is limited to what I can do for them – if that makes sense. If I engage their gossip, that lowers me and it encourages them in a false direction. Since I cannot “direct them” or correct them either without violating their own free choice, then not engaging (detachment) is the way to go. This lack of emotional engagement does lead to peace.

      5. Hyperion

        Thank you Sha’Tara for the excellent ‘splainin.’ That was the additional info needed to get my head elves centered on the correct meaning of detachment versus stoicism. I definitely need work on detachment as we have connected with it here. I think this is my single and greatest desire to achieve the detachment you speak off. I can say, I need a lot of work, but I’m all in to achieve that goal. Wait! What was that? Did I just hear trumpets playing? I think they are announcing the victory of good thoughts occuring in my mind. That’s a major achievement. You finally broke through the infinite bone barrier and fired off some neurons. Dang you are good Sha’Tara 🤩

      6. Sha'Tara Post author

        Hey, good is good… thanks Hype. Now I’m waiting for another episode of Return of the Dragons and here’s hoping your Sunday was productive. Don’t want to pressure you but, where the hell is that next episode? 🙂

      7. Hyperion

        Ha ha ha haaa! I owe everyone an apology. That next episode istaking its sweet time. I need a writer’s retreat. I have much of the story mapped out to the end but real life is demanding too much attention. I call it relentless living. But, not to worry. When the revenant dam bursts, those episodes will fly out at a steady pace.

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