At Sea Without an Anchor

A presentation from The Economics of Post-Factual Democracy, the first annual conference of The Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS) at The University of Copenhagen

Absolutes are rarely available in a world of evolving structure. Yearning for order to alleviate fear is human. But the quest for certainty creates dangerous temptations when faced with the new technologies of large scale, rapid- re and sometimes synthetic information bombardment. The discord that emerges through ”infostorms” beckons us to look at these human construction with an eye toward openness. Neither anarchy nor authoritarian information structures are satisfying. I will argue that a danger lurking beneath our sea of unknowing is to idolize notions such as truth and facts that lead toward an authoritarian control structure of information and validation that will produce the same kind of blind spots and callousness that opened the world to the election of Donald Trump and Brexit. I will use the writings of Herman Melville to illuminate this challenge. Ahab and Nemesis are both among us.

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