The Information Superhighway. What promise that term engendered, at least, for those of us who treasure good, solid, information. It is important to note that nowhere in that term was there ever any suggestion that the information being delivered down that superhighway would be of any quality level or have anything to do with quality at all.
According to Russell Ackoff, there exists a ‘Knowledge Hierarchy’ or ‘Knowledge Pyramid’ which is more correctly referred to as an inverted pyramid where a progression is formed by taking the lowest component (Data) and through an aggregation process move through Information, then Knowledge, on to Understanding, and eventually Wisdom.
Another pyramid, one that attempts to describe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sees self-actualization as the pinnacle of development where by people will “embrace reality and facts rather than denying truth.”
Whether or not one subscribes to either of these theories, it should be readily apparent that information which is corrupt will pollute the decision making process to the detriment of all. If we are to assume that the DIKW hierarchy is correct, what happens when the data stream is full of bad data? Can we apply the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) theory of computing to this question? And, if so, what happens when we include the concept of Cognitive Dissonance, otherwise known as Belief Persistence, to this process? To further complicate this question, what happens when the information being injected into the data stream is intentionally falsified so as to manipulate the conclusions arrived at? What effect would this have on society and society’s development?
When I buy a bottle of water I expect the container to contain as close to 100% pure water as can be reliably delivered, not some portion of water mixed with who knows what. And yet, when I seek out information on the superhighway, while there is no lack of quantity, the quality of this fundamental building block of wisdom is certainly in question. Certainly, critical thinking is a skill that must be applied to anything we come across but how does one teach this subject? An even better question might be to ask how one can teach critical thinking when there is no apparent baseline of good information to draw from?
Instead of prizing and rewarding excellent sources of this most precious commodity, we are now bent headlong into minimizing these sources as our media devolves into a catering service aimed at the lowest common denominator, filled with intentional misrepresentations chosen to confuse and confound anyone working to better themselves – more often than not, for political gain.
At what point do we understand that while a person is entitled to their opinion, the delusional psychopath prophesying that the return of the Hale Bopp comet mandates that we should all commit suicide has no standing with the researcher who can show credible evidence that we are harming our environment.
This is the Information Quality Quotient or IQQ.