Review: The Information Diet – A Case for Conscious Consumption

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Clay Johnson

5.0 out of 5 stars Gift Book, Gift Idea, Gift Economy, Get a Grip,February 18, 2012

I received a copy of this book as a gift, and gladly so since the top review at this time is unfairly dismissive while also confessing that the reviewer only read the first third of the book (but evidently not the preface (first page) that states plainly (first sentence, actually), “The things we know about food have a lot to teach us about how to have a healthy relationship with information.”

Having just reviewed The Telescreen: An Empirical Study of the Destruction and Despiritualization of Consciousness, and so many other books here at Amazon, I easily connect the point in last night’s reading: that food, medicine, education, and the media are all “co-conspirators” in dumbing down a human population whose brains started out as enormous pools of potential creativity, to this book. The information — and the food and the medicine and the tabloid garbage we are ingesting — is killing us.

What the first reviewer completely misses is that this is the first manifesto, beyond The Age of Missing Information, to actually focus on how out of control our relationship is to the world of information. As a lifetime professional in these matters I can state clearly that not only are governments substituting ideology for intelligence and corruption for integrity, but so are all the other communities of information (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government / non-profit. We live in a totally corrupt world where — right now — banking families (Rothschild et al) own the banks and the banks own the two-party tyrannies (or the outright dictators) that own government, and they own the the corporations, with the 99% being expendable fodder for 1% theft from the commonwealth. This book is a cry from the heart, and an eloquent one at that.

The author diverges from all the information overload people who talk about needed better technical filters (news flash: Google hacks math garbage and makes no sense at all; Microsoft and Oracle et al are different manifestations of the same flawed model — pay us, we will decide what you get to eat.

The author is totally in harmony with both Buckminster Fuller and Russell Ackoff, the high priests of getting it right instead of doing the wrong thing over and over again at greater and greater expense.

The food-obesity model used by the author is totally relevant and highly effective because obesity and poisonous food are only possible when the government lies, the media lies, the schools lie, and of course commerce lies. WIRED Magazine had a nice piece a while back on how eventually we can scan a piece of food with our hand-held, ingest total knowledge, and their quote as I recall so vividly was “Eat me and I will kill you.” Well, that goes for 80% or more of the food “our” government approves for human consumption.

The key point here, also made in Telescreen and in my own book that I cannot link to but am allowed to mention (THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth, and Trust) is that we are all in the fight for our life as human beings, truth is the goal, and lies are the enemy.

The author does a fine job of building on the work of others and captures the nuances of technology-degraded thinking and the loss of the hand-eye-reality interface. Books such as Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media and The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge set the stag: we are all enmeshed in one gigantic, persistent, pervasive, pathological mesh of lies. To live that lie is to die. To break free of the matrix and find the truth is to live life to the fullest extent possible for our extraordinary species.

I have been studying information pathologies for some time (after rejecting the world of spying where I spent nine years doing the wrong things for the right reasons), and recommend, along with this book, such other books as Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography, Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin, Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq and Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling.

The author diverges from all others who lament information technology and information overload by drilling down specifically to the core REASON we are becoming ill: our innate human desire to select belief affirmation over continuing education, a mental infirmity rooted in rotten schools that were designed to beat the creativity out of children and create disciplined dumbed down factory workers out of the majority (and I find that colleges today are a farce, with 60% oftheir graduates being no more competent than high school graduates in the 1950’s) — all a lie, all a bubble, all very very bad for the public as a community and a whole.

Scary fact (page 40): for every journalist working to fill the tiny “newshole” inside of media advertising machines, there are four public relations types (not counting the government) working to fill that newshole with false information.

I am well satisfied with the author’s summary of why we accept unreality, and his brief review of the psychology of cognitive dissonance versus belief affirmation. He touches on cognitive science and collective intelligence, a particular interest of mine since I envision a world brain and global game one day that makes panarchy (everyone votes on everything with access to relevant information and budget lines, all the time) possible.

Unlike the reviewer that dismisses this book, I am reading the entire book, and by page 69 can see that only the first fraction of the book was focused on food as a metaphoer. The book has been into information substance from the beginning. So much for highly voted reviews that are worthless.

QUOTE (69): The new ignorance has three flavors–all of thiw lead us to information obesity: agnotology, epistemic closure, and filter failure.

QUOTE (74): My wife Roz is actually three people: there’s Normal Roz, there’s Email Roz, and their’s Zombie Roz.

Nice overview of symptoms of information obesity including email apnea, poor sense of time, attention fatigue, loss of social breadth, distorted sense of reality, brand loyalty.

The book wraps uo with chapters on data literacy, attention fitness, a healthy sense of humor, how to consume, and then a discussion of the participation gap and further reading.

QUOTE (113): There is currently no government agency to monitor information consumption–though former President Bill Clinton suggested creating one in May 2011.”

Since I am the persistent champion of the Open Source Agency, under diplomatic auspices as a sister agency to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I immediately see another attribute of the agency I have long been developing, not only feeding truth to power and the public, but constantly evaluating liars and the lying financial interests behind them.

I have mixed feelings about the recommendations at the end, but the core is solid as a rock: we have to treat information as the ammunition, fuel, and food in our battle to retake the USA from the 1%, we have to “sweat the small stuff,” and we cannot give up.

Further reading is actually a list of people, books, and blogs.

This is a thin book, a fast read (I am reading the digital copy), and while I might have toyed with four stars in relation to other books such as Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room, on balance — and specifically to counteract the really ROTTEN review that 100 less generous souls people have voted for — I come down with a solid five. This is an original contribution by a very serious person, it merits the broadest possible attention.

The other 1700 or so of my Amazon non-fiction reviews (I read in 98 categories) can be more easily accessed by category (e.g. Information Society) at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

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