Today, we look out on an age that is not focused on knowledge from books. People seem to like getting little specs of information in tweets, text messages, and internet “headlines.” If students have these habits solely you can only guess what a mess it must be like for them to come to grips with real issues and problems in a classroom. They don’t have just a piece of the problem and solution, they have only a very small bite.

But there are many  people, including good teachers and librarians, who are out there promoting books as a great equalizer–what young people need to get ahead in the world. I have to wonder how many people believe it?

For those of us who have been around the block a few times, we can see though a lot of “fake knowledge” in documentaries and other popular programs. So much information in these “products” is short changed by cheap processes and lack of scholarship. There are often documentaries available on TV that have lists of things that are supposed to add up to the most significant  mysteries, scandals, or conspiracies on certain topics. But as soon as you see one or two of them you know the research is flawed and they often ask more questions that answer. In some cases whoever puts these things together throws out possible answers to the questions posted that are meant to be comical. At the end of each issue covered they often end with a statement: “or was it created by creatures from outer space?”

Sure most people are not that stupid, but you can find this kind of fake knowledge creeping into our national consciousness. And it is often found in much debate that people put forward about problems in the real world.  If we are not thinking rationally, we are not thinking rationally and it doesn’t matter what issues we are taking up.

At least with a book you have a better chance of getting good information or at least you hear though processes that have been expanded. Some books are rubbish, but in many you will find things of value.  But as I point out to my kids, if you don’t think logically about things, you are not thinking. We live in an age where some people want to paint a politician who has misstated a thought just the same as another who has acted out his criminal desires. And then someone else will add these together and make a statement that “all politicians are criminal” based on these facts.  If you don’t know anything about logic or reasoning, you can fall for these conclusions. Many people who know better are in positions of political power and media responsibility, but they misuse such statements because it feeds into their arguments. And all that misused garbage is heaped onto the public.

Lawrence Norris,

Photo: A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the Musée Rodin in Paris