What is information?

Disclaimer: Prof told us NOT to Google and to think through it on our own

  • Information: a communicated set of facts
  • Fact: assertion believed to be true
    • That’s how we get “bad” or “false” information.
  • Communicated? Through language, we know what “fact” and “information” are.
    • i.e. Finger prints
      • finger prints aren’t human – they don’t communicate
      • someone observed, then communicated that finger prints can be used to identify individuals
        • we didn’t know that years ago – identifying dead bodies was not as easy
        • communication is a medium?
    • Facts don’t have to be communicated…wait, no, the cause of a fact doesn’t need to be communicated. An observable truth can become a fact when the observer identifies it as fact and communicates it.
  • Under this definition, biological facts qualify as information
    • many of the “facts” we talk about seem to be more like theories
      • especially microbiology, like last time we talked about focusing on smaller and smaller and smaller areas of study, where argumentative reasoning takes over for observable evidence
      • similarly, Sociobiologists might say that “you get your aggression from a specific gene in your genome.” Without a critique, people may think this is fact, and that’s how we get “bad information.” Even though sociobiology is technically still up for debate.

I love my Philosophy of Science class. Every day before he begins his lecture, we talk in groups about a prompt. Then one representative for each group goes up to the front of the class, writes a sentence on the board, and has a conversation with Professor Ratti. For my group, I’m almost always the one talking and it’s almost always just my ideas. My group is super awesome though – they’re fun, cool, smart people. So rare to find really really good class-friends. They’re really great. I just have more fun with this prompt stuff than they do, sometimes, like today – haha.

One of the girls asked me if I took previous biology classes, because I always seem to know a lot. I said, “No, but I like science.” I really don’t know much, but when I listen in class, I’m not just taking the lecture as facts to be memorized – I engage with and deeply question what I’m being told – which is perfect for this class. She was frustrated because this class talks about a ton of scientific theories and discoveries, but we seem to always end with “but that was proved to be false.” This frustrates and confuses her – but I interpret this class differently. I told her that I think the point of this class is to question everything the scientific community has presented as fact – which I think is so much fun.

He said he was surprised that none of us mentioned “data” (datum-singular) in our definition of information. He said it’s surprising that it’s a natural assumption that data is part of information. What do you think?

Data: comparative differences, which gives people information, you must have at least 2 objects, two entities not equal to each other

To be clear, I’m typing this in class. Class is still going on and I keep updating this post. 🙂

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