I am relieving my ‘gadget stress‘ by ‘reading offline‘ and allowing some ‘mind wandering‘ to stimulate an increase in my intellectual productivity and creativity with the aid of some walks across green fields and cliff tops. In other words, I have ‘gone walking‘ on a ‘deep vacation‘. If you don’t have the opportunity for a vacation, then at least ‘Slow down, breathe your own air‘.
Our senses are bombarded in modern life. When our ears are plugged with sound from the mobile phone to which our eyes are glues, our brain tends to be overloaded with stimuli and we barely register the signals from our other senses: smell, taste, touch. Our smart phones can deliver so much data to our brains that there is little time to savour experiences. Yet, some neuroscientists have suggested that the significant function of consciousness is to provide us with sensory pleasure and a reason to live. In our busy lives, we need to pay attention to the small things in life, such as the taste of your home-made granola at breakfast and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, or the feel of a shell or pebble that you keep on your desk [‘Pebbles – where are yours?’ on September 27, 2017]. So, tune into all of your senses and give your mind a break from the digital world. It should make you feel better.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about epistemic dependence and the idea that we need to trust experts because we are unable to verify everything ourselves as life is too short and there are too many things to think about. However, this approach exposes us to the risk of being misled and Julian Baggini has suggested that this risk is increasing with the growth of psychology, which has allowed more people to master methods of manipulating us, that has led to ‘a kind of arms race of deception in which truth is the main casualty.’ He suggests that when we are presented with new information then we should perform an epstemic triage by asking:
- Is this a domain in which anyone can speak the truth?
- What kind of expert is a trustworthy source of truth in that domain?
- Is a particular expert to be trusted?
The deluge of information, which streams in front of our eyes when we look at the screens of our phones, computers and televisions, seems to leave most of us grasping for a hold on reality. Perhaps we should treat it all as fiction until have performed Baggini’s triage, at least on the sources of the information streams, if not also the individual items of information.