Knowledge and Information LO30849

From: Don Dwiggins (
Date: 12/20/03

Replying to LO30627 --

In LO30627, dpdash writes in response to Mark McElroy:
>> Sadly, this 'truth dimension' to the subject of knowledge is
>> conspicuously missing from too many contemporary definitions of the term,
>> including the "capacity for effective action' school. It's as if we
>> either don't care about truth and falsity, or that we somehow always
>> assume that what's in our heads is true.


> The truth dimension that Mark talks about is, I think, the same as his
> point about 'testing', 'evaluating', etc. Thus it links up to the question
> of 'survival' of knowledge. One way to study survival is to study death --
> death of knowledge. Knowledges do die and disappear.

> "death of knowledge" 261 Google hits
> "disappearance of knowledge" 140 Google hits

> If you, dear reader, have the time to look some of these up, please do so
> and tell us what they are about.

I did look up "death of knowledge", and found some things that may be
interesting, including a way of using Google:

The majority of the hits (496 as of today) are about a musical piece
by Waltari (don't know if that's a person or a band), called "Yeah!
Yeah! Die! Die! Death Metal Symphony in Deep C"; Part 4 is called
'The Struggle For Life And Death Of "Knowledge" ' (double quotes in
the original).

So, I changed the search to ' "death of knowledge" -waltari ' (the
dash signifies "and not"). This cut the hits down to 291. There were
several hits on "death of knowledge management", either claiming KM's
death or responding to those claims.

The next search, then, was ' "death of knowledge" -waltari -management';
this got 254 hits. Many of these were repetitions of a quote from
Alfred North Whitehead: "Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is
the death of knowledge."

So, next try ' "death of knowledge" -waltari -management -whitehead ';
this cuts it down to 158. Several pages quote Karl Popper on
"Critical Rationalism":

    I hold that orthodoxy is the death of knowledge, since the growth of
    knowledge depends entirely on the existence of disagreement.
    Admittedly, disagreement may lead to strife, and even to violence. And
    this, I think, is very bad indeed, for I abhor violence. Yet
    disagreement may also lead to discussion, to argument and to mutual
    criticism. And these, I think, are of paramount importance, I suggest
    that the greatest step towards a better and more peaceful world was
    taken when the war of swords was first supported, and later sometimes
    even replaced, by a war of words. This is why my topic is of some
    practical significance. - Karl Popper, The Myth of the Framework

Onward! ' "death of knowledge" -waltari -management -whitehead -popper '
gives 153 hits. Some interesting (to me, at least) quotes:
- The Prophet's hadith, saying, "the death of a scholar, is the death of
  knowledge" haunts me.

- "Despair is the death of faith. But faith is knowledge. Therefore despair
  is the death of knowledge, the death of all accumulation." (from "Agni
  Yoga Series - Master Index - VICTIM")

- "Respect in a nutshell is the crucial lubricant in the student ÷ teacher
  relationship that allows knowledge to flow. Without respect, whole bodies
  of knowledge quickly die because neither student nor teacher go out of
  their way to help one another. The death of knowledge is the death not
  just of altruism, but of civilization." From "THE BLESSINGS OF LIFE Unit
  22 : Respect"

- "The crop uniformity fostered by the massive CGIAR promotion of Green
  Revolution package of technologies that include modern varieties, chemical
  pesticides and fertilizers have cause the en masse extermination of
  traditional and farmers' varieties which were pictured as low-yielding and
  unproductive. Along these losses were the traditional knowledge and
  practices associated with the use of these resources in agriculture, as
  food and medicines. The obsession over yield as the single factor that
  drives agricultural research has led to the death of knowledge, traditions
  and cultural practices that come with the use of traditional crop
  varieties. The myopic focus on grain as the single most important crop
  that deserves the attention of international research has deprived women
  and children of nutrition sources, namely vegetables, fruits and other
  species that come with traditional rice culture." From "Biodiversity,
  Biopiracy and Ecological Debt" By Elenita C. Daņo

(For me, this last has eerie echos of the effects of the current
eductional focus on "standardized testing" and other simplistic

Finally, I added "-ignorance" to the search, and got down to 84 hits,
which are much more diverse than the original set. I'll let someone
else take up the thread, if they so desire, and regale us with gems
from "disappearance of knowledge".


Don Dwiggins Man ascends through the discovery of the fullness of his own gifts. What he creates along the way are monuments to the stages of his understanding of nature and of self. -- Jacob Bronowski, "The Ascent of Man"

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