Skepticism in the information age Part 2 : Information


Pronunciation: \ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century

1: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence

2 a (1): knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2): intelligence , news (3): facts , data b: the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects c (1): a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2): something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct d: a quantitative measure of the content of information ; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

3: the act of informing against a person4: a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury

-- source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information

Based on the first definition, information is the communication or the reception of knowledge or intelligence. As we trace back the source of knowledge, we came across data, and now, information. Information is where data (specifically linked data) becomes useful. Useful in a sense that process data can be "interpreted" and that is where learning begins.

Consider this example. When you were a kid, there are tons of data around trying to get into your head. Many are recognizable, others are not. Since there is not enough experience yet to process the data, most of them are rejected until the data is "fine-tuned" to our specific needs.

A primitive form of Information Filtering, if you will, http://cmc.dsv.su.se/select/information-filtering.html(Primitive as it is confined only to filter information through a single media). Much like info filtering in Computer Science, primitive info filtering has its rules and attributes. I am not a psychologist, so I leave the psychology to them. I'll talk about instead information filtering in computer science. Based on the rules and attributes of information filtering, we can come up with 2 types: automatic and social. Of the two, the more complex, believe it or not, is the first one. Yes, automatic information filtering is more complex because (a) Computers are not that powerful enough to think for themselves and (b) "Intelligent" information filtering, in reality, often needs human intervention, which, falls back as social filtering. Search engines are good example of social filtering through "keywords."

Using this "keywords", we usually "come up" ( another term for generalize ) with concepts. This process is called association. It is the time we use informations, team them up with other information and call them experiences ( level up! ). Example: we know that the term "hot" means danger from fire. When we get somehow burned by "a steaming object," we tie it up with the term "hot" and when we saw "a steaming object" again, we always assume that it is indeed "hot." In this case, our experience tells us that finding "a steaming object" will always lead us to finding "hot." So we stay this way unless there will be another experience that tells us otherwise. For example, we again saw "a steaming object" but this time, the "steaming object" is composed of "ice." Of course, at first we can't believe that the "steaming object" is not "hot" as we used to conclude. It is when we experienced ( using one or more of our senses ) that we can give exemption to our "a steaming object" is equal to "hot" convention in the case of the "ice object".

I haven't done artificial intelligence before, but as I have learned theoretically, if we can combine objects, methods and their properties, create association fast enough to access other objects faster than a blink of an eye ( technically, information should be faster than the speed of light, but since the speed of the light is the speed limit of the universe ...) to be able to emulate to some extent, the function of the complex brain of an insect.

In the next post, I will discuss how skepticism plays an important role in defining "objects"


Skepticism in the information age

Without a doubt, we are fortunate that the world we are living in carries information faster than, say, about 20 years ago. We can now enjoy the benefits of information sharing and fast information accumulation at just the tip of our fingers.

Gone were the days when we used to cram to public libraries to research our term papers. Back then, if people are interested about something, they have to take time off from work just to find resources good enough to read to be able to know a little bit more about the topic they are interested in. Now we have search engines, online encyclopedias and online video tutorials and video essays. Wow. if only our ancestors were given this much information, they could have improved their lives and wars should not have been necessary to change the society.

Along with faster, more convenient access to information, comes skepticism. Today, more than ever, we need to be a little bit more skeptic ( but not to the point of being cynical, we can't test everything under the sun, you know) about the things we learn specially on the internet. We should do our best to scrutinize each and every data that we collect before we base our judgments, decisions and inclinations upon it.

In my point of view, there is no such thing as wrong information. I would rather say wrong interpretation or misrepresented data. I believe that information could only be as wrong as much as how you interpreted it to be.

Let us first trace where information comes from and why should we be truly careful about picking data,information and knowledge from everywhere and I mean everywhere.

Data is the lowest level of abstraction, having information at a higher level and knowledge at a higher level still. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data). This means anatomically, data is the basis for all information and ultimately, of knowledge. Data could be anything from physical and material objects to concepts and abstracts. Every second, tons and tons of data are created, manipulated and transformed. In computer science, we quantify data by means of its "atomicity". In reality, the "atom" of data we handle everyday travels so fast that we, programmers, developers and database administrators have to abstract so as not to be overwhelmed by everything.

Ok, going back. Although data can be boring ( since each datum cannot stand by itself ), Collection of data is exciting. This is the time that data can be connected to each other to form a "concept." This is what Mr. Tim Berners-Lee is talking about in his appearance on TED (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/tim_berners_lee_on_the_next_web.html). Linked Data already forms "concepts." It is at this point that data is not anymore abstract. It can now be represent itself and it is now able to stand on its own. In computer science, we call this information "record." A record is a collection of interrelated data that can represent a concept or an entity.

There. I finished talking about data. Next we will talk about information and everything that goes with it.


I don't want to debate creationists anymore

There will come a time when a you will tire down a topic. That's what happened to me. I tire on the topic of evolutionism vs. creationism. I don't want to argue with creationists anymore as I grow with more fondness with evolutionism.

So what do I do about my time now? First there is an incoming bulk of work that I have to attend to. Second, I will be spending some time thinking philosophically. That means I have to post from the ground up of philosophy so I can learn and you and I can see the progress of my learning. Not that I haven't learned anything in college. It's just that when you don't use it as often, you tend to mix up things and I don't want to mix up things, that would just be another internet garbage.

So I'll wait for the next post and let's see what's in store for us in this journey.

Renz out.


Atheism is not a fad.

What is a fad?

A fad by definition ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fad ) is:

: a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal : craze

We can break up the definition into three parts:

(1) A fad is a practice or an interest.
(2) It has a time element ( albeit a short one, or it may be a long one but fads are usually short-lived ).
(3) The practitioners follows it with an exaggerated zeal.

Now, can we ask Mr. Wikipedia how long had atheism been in the planet?

(if you will ask me, I think atheism had been here much much much longer than religion ever was although people were not aware that they’re atheist, these words were not invented before religion was even there)


(1) is appropriate, atheism is an interest. What do atheists practice? Skepticism? Freethinking? But there are people outside of the atheism umbrella that do practice some sort of skepticism and freethinking.

(2) Atheism (based on the wikipedia link) had been around quite some time. Although unlike religion, it is not as organized because how can you organize people who, for the first place, approve of the negative (a-theos). It’s like creating an organization of non-ice-cream eaters, or non-Spiderman fans club. Atheists could be anyone behind the spectrum of non-god-believers. In short, atheism fails this definition.

(3) What will atheists follow with a great zeal? Their skepticism? Their freethinking attitude?  Maybe so but is that wrong? Is thinking wrong? Is being a skeptic wrong?

Atheism is not a fad. It’s not a belief. Its a state of thinking people succumb to when reason takes over. It’s just being honest that proof for the god concept really doesn’t add up. As Mr. Richard Dawkins once said “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. “



First Filipino Freethinkers Forum

This date, February 28 2009, I will always remember it as one of the days I enjoyed so much.

I would like to congratulate everyone who made this event possible. To the sponsors, organizers, the guest speakers and all the new faces that I have never seen in the first meet up held about a month ago. I really learned a lot from the forum, and I think its a good start.

As what one of the speakers said, it had been a “kid in a candy store” moment for me too. There are so many things in my head that I would like to have someone explain to me, share with me and I found out that there are others like me too.

I can’t wait till the next FFF it may lose the First F but what the heck, there’s a first for everything and when there’s a first there should be a second, a third, so on.

I’ll post some pics grabbed from other people’s camera as I have not taken any with me. :D


2 days to go! Only 12 seats remaining


I can’t wait. Two more days to go and it’s Saturday - The FFFF (First Filipino Freethinkers Forum) will be held 1PM to 4PM (registration starts at 12NN) at the U-View in Fully Booked at 902 Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.

Join us there when we tackle the issue about Practical Freethinking.

Read more Details at the FFFF website: http://www.filipinofreethinkers.org



On the Fellowship of Freethinkers

Yesterday at about 2pm, a group of Filipino Freethinkers (not necessarily atheists, there are deists and theists in the group) got together at the Starbucks' Cafe, Level 6 of Shangri-La Edsa Mall.

What transpired there was more of a friendly chat as opposed to what I expected a group of thinkers would do when herded together in one place. I was expecting a lot of group-segments piled up in their own dogmas, beliefs and aspirations whatever you would want to call it. Instead, I saw one group of people sharing the common interest of forwarding thinking and reasoning not just for themselves but for other people as well.

This made me realize a lot of things.

* If you would try herding a group of cats, you get different meows, different scratches and different disastrous things happening. If you try to herd THINKING cats, you get the same different meows, different scratches and different disastrous things happen but this time you see the difference working together as one

* Freethinkers are feelers, too!

* Freethinkers does not necessarily mean Intellectuals (in the most burgouise-tic sense of it) . They're not necessarily comprised of upper-class people who have so much time in their hands that they have all they for themselves, sitting in a chair in a beach or cave somewhere, doing nothing but thinking. Thinkers instead can be busy people trying to make the most of their lives ( for some of them are sure that this is the only one they have) through self-introspection and observing the world around them.

* Public stigma of Freethinkers that they are too proud of themselves is WRONG!

I say, I had lots (tons) of fun in that friendly activity yesterday. I really hope that there would be more of these (but none-too-soon as I am doing tons of work after lying low the past 2 days). Wish there would be more people ( not too much, though, maybe 40-50 but not a hundred as it tends to get a little bit more difficult to associate names with faces, maybe later) the next time. Don't also forget that on the 28th there would be a Freethinkers' Forum. I posted the details in the past blog, I will be posting more of the details after the next meet which will be next Sunday!

So the Fellowship of Freethinkers adjourned with smile in their faces and hope in their hearts that someday, we will be the instrument in reaching out to people to help them think, make them realize that knowledge and wisdom will always be, ALWAYS BE the greatest weapon against any adversary ( imagined, or unimagined ) they will ever face.



EVENTS: First Filipino Freethinkers' Forum

There will be an event this coming February 28. 2009 and its called...

The First Filipino Freethinkers' Forum

I'm excited since this will be the first freethinkers' forum that I will be attending.

Before this though, there will be an open session that will be held at the Starbucks top floor, Edsa Shangri-la Mall on Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.

Moving on, the Forum will be held at the Fully Booked in Fort Bonifacio Global City from 10AM to 4PM. Hopefully we can all come so we can meet there and learn new things.

Here's the link to learn more about the event: http://www.filipinofreethinkers.org