Sunday, May 8, 2011

Attractiveness and Quality of Ideas: Part 2 of The Democracy of Ideas

Now, what is it that is traveling through the network?  Simply put, they are ideas.*   An idea is any piece of information.  I intend for this concept to be quite broad—an idea can range in complexity from a sentence to a multi-tome theory-of-everything.  Here is the main concept: Ideas are competing against each other in something very much like a Darwinian arena. And whether or not an idea thrives in our culture depends on two characteristics: Its Quality and its Attractiveness.    Based on these two characteristics, ideas can be divided into four types, a model that I will outline here.  

Quality: Ideas, are like metaphors.  Our ideas are not the same exact thing as a reality in the external world.  They are only an approximation of the external world.  And in this respect they can correspond to a greater or lesser degree to reality.  Those ideas that correspond to reality, when allowed to influence behavior, will promote survival and progress.  We can call this adaptation.   If your ideas about the world do not correspond very well to the way the world actually is, then they are not going to help you function in that world.   A low quality idea will actually harm your chances of survival and adaptation.  
Attractiveness: Some ideas for various reasons our easily absorbed (attended to, learned, remembered, passed on) and other are not.  A great deal of different factors goes into whether an idea has high or low Attraction.  For example, simple ideas are all in all, more attractive.  Ideas that are connected with other ideas you already possess (or your current beliefs) are more attractive.  Ideas that do not require specialized knowledge are more attractive.   On the other hand, complex ideas, that require pre-existing knowledge, that are not compatible of one’s current beliefs are less likely to be absorbed.  

If we simplify these characteristics into two categories each, we get a four quadrants: 
1. High Quality/Compelling Ideas
2. High Quality/Difficult Ideas
3. Low Quality/Compelling Ideas
4.  Low Quality/Difficult Ideas.

Next we shall flesh out these descriptions of ideas.  Following that we will discuss how to tell the difference between these types of ideas, and lastly, the writer’s opinion of what these types of ideas have to do with being a good citizen int he Democracy of Ideas, in which we live.  

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