I remember the cigar lady at Ruby Foo’s Restaurant in Montreal-“Cigars, Cigarettes, Tiperellos”, she would say softly, as she roamed from table to table, dressed in a gorgeous Chinese robe. Smoking was not bad for your health; it was a social pleasure even though I did not “run” to tell my father that I had bought a pack of du Maurier. Later of course, that pleasure was to end as smoking became as healthy as inhaling fumes from a Mac truck.
Two eggs a day were a must in “Canada’s Health Rules”, drilled into my head by Mrs. MacLean, Mr Colebrook, Mrs Pert and Mrs Taylor. Spending time in the sun didn’t cause melanoma-it provided Vitamin C.
In my 71 years, I have seen and heard almost every food labelled as a cause of cancer and/or an elixir for good health.
Many diseases that had been able as “triggered by stress”, were later to be redefined years later as caused by something else. Nowadays, “viruses” and “stress” are very popular.
Recently I have been asking myself what are we taking for granted now that years from now will be defined as nonsense. My guess is that it will be “what is information, and how much of it, whatever it is, do we need?”
I really don’t know what information is anymore. It’s not that I am being a smart-Alec; I really don’t know.
Clearly it’s not anything on the evening news. It’s not what politicians tell us. Certainly it is not religion, for me anyway. It’s very hard to get an agreement on an agreed version of what is a historical fact. Most sciences have changing paradigms, as Kuhn pointed out years ago.
I also practice a profession which no one can define. Definitions of my profession range from applied social science to an art form. Those differences in themselves are hard to define.
Realities don’t always change because of better knowledge, but also because of fads, fashion and political infighting within disciplines.
Which leads me to believe that we need much better filters, not only less misinformation.
And we need to treat the information that comes our way like water that needs to cleaned, milk that needs to be pasteurized and air that needs to be clean.
Filtering information-is that just another hype, or a real need?