Thursday, June 20, 2019

Addicted to information: Idle curiosity

I imagined that learning was somehow free from addiction and pure goodness. But this article from NeuroscienceNews.Com shows that facts are also part of the reward system that gets all wrapped up in addiction:

"“To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it’s useful,” said Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu, a neuroeconomist whose research employs functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), psychological theory, economic modeling, and machine learning. “And just as our brains like empty calories from junk food, they can overvalue information that makes us feel good but may not be useful–what some may call idle curiosity.”"

I've been reading a history of America and looking lots of things up on Wikipedia. There were woman who fought in the Revolutionary War: Deborah Sampson GannettMolly PitcherAnna Maria Lane, Sally St. Clair and Margaret Corbin.

We joke about "surfing the internet" is like going down the rabbit hole, a reference to the great curiouser and curiouser book Alice In Wonderland. It turns out always looking at our phones is a kind of addiction.

I've always seen curiosity as a virtue, but I suppose everything can be turned into a vice.

Could this be applied to the whole industry of celebrity gossip? Could this be applied to wanting to know more about Shakespeare, when there's little biographical information?

They outlawed slaves learning to read because they might get big ideas, or learn about all the slave rebellions going on all over the place.

The information age has changed a lot of things. Caskets have gone down in price because people learned you could get caskets for cheaper somewhere else.

Where are the stories where information hurt people? I know that drug information did not decrease the amount of drug use, like it was hoped.

Sangharakshita talked about a kind of dharma indigestion where people knew too many exotic practices and dharma but were not really putting any of it into practice. Nothing was valued or sacred it was all just gorged information.

Maybe we should call it not the information age, but the clickbait age, slowing down to rubber neck.

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