Information vs Education

I realize how ironic this is, me writing a blog, putting more information out there, yet criticizing our access to info.

Everywhere I look these days, we’re bombarded by information. With all the access we’ve got these days to the Internet, it’s hard not to be constantly plugged in to the information stream.

One of the newest trends I see online, is the regurgitation of the same or very similar information, I’m guilty of it myself — though I hope that I’m spinning it through my critical thinking process and shedding new light. Everyone is offering you up something that you simply must read, some new information that is going to dramatically change your life, often for free, but very few people are pioneers with their ideas these days. Even fewer are capable of turning old information on it’s head, with a new spin.

Now truthfully the good stuff almost always comes to the surface. The good information allows bloggers and consultants to really carve out their unique niche and self-publish great information products. That good information is the stuff that gets spread in pure forms all over the internet but more importantly creates interaction.

Now none of this particularly bothers me on a personal level, I’ve gotten pretty good at filtering what I don’t find useful.

What does bother me, is that I know others are not quite as good at this process. If they were, informercials would not be as successful as they have been. This is merely an observation of a skill to filter good and bad information. We are all susceptible to this at some point or another.

Check out the book, ‘How to Analyze Information‘ by Herbert Meyer (it used to be free…). Herbert has an excellent analogy, thinking of analyzing information as cooking, the outcome is the direct result of cooking the ingredients with a recipe.

A lot of the time, that information is content specific to the individual. If you know more about a topic, you are more likely to be capable to filter garbage information and marketing strategies. If it’s a topic you have very little understanding of, you are probably much more susceptible to buying into that information and consequently feeling duped.

I know this is true for me, which is why I now insist upon taking some time, to read at least 3 other sources of information and question the source of the initial information, before making a purchase decision.

Bruce Lee has a great quote to exemplify this argument:

‘Absorb what is useful; Discard what is not; Add what is uniquely your own’

I think what he’s actually referring to is a type of ‘self-education.’ At a certain point, we need to take the information we have access to, and apply it to an educational process. This does not necessarily mean, taking a nutrition or personal training course. It could mean simply having some kind of interaction and dialogue with a mentor, teacher, or coach. It could also mean gathering multiple sources of information together and through a critical thinking process, coming up with an interpretation of that data in a way that allows us to experience a self-educational process.

This means gaining experience and learning from the application of the knowledge bestowed upon us. What fails for us? What works for us? We need to be adapting and interacting with this information and other individuals, who are using the same information for their own education. Ultimately we need to come up with our own unique solutions to these problems, that we initially thought access to the information alone would solve. We need to build our own philosophies, systems and guidelines based upon these experiences.

Preferably these experiences come from all or many of the following:

  • Reading
  • Observing Others
  • Discussion with Others
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Physical Presentations
  • Hands On Experience
  • Writing/Presenting Your Own Observations

Body transformation, losing weight, feeling better about your physical self are not scientific problems we can solve in a science lab (yet) with any definitive answers. The process is equally an art, as it is a science, and as such, there are many ways to arrive to the same conclusion. The lack of true black and white answers, creates an educational shade of grey. What shade of grey you come up with, is your own personal education, and that education should become the focus, not more information.

We don’t really need more information, we need to apply it better.

For those interested, 

Herbert Meyer Presents a Seven Step Process:

  1. Figure out where you are relative to the answers you seek
  2. Be sure you’re seeing the data clearly
  3. Decide what you need to decide (decipher the validity of the questions you’re asking)
  4. Determine what you need to know (based on the validity of the questions you’re asking)
  5. Collect the information
  6. Turn the information into knowledge (Critically think about the patterns held within the information you’ve collected)
  7. Add the final ingredient, you’re own judgement.

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