Friday, February 6, 2009

The Case Against Oversimplification

It is never easy to represent succintly one's perception of the real world. It is a balancing act that must explore grey areas and sort them into a distinct pattern of different pieces connected to each other. In its basic dimension it is about common sense, in its more elevated dimension it is about wisdom. All in all, it ought to be everybody's quest.

Alternatively, propaganda is a synthesis of selective information that is meant to capture emotions of the target audience and modify its perception. Propaganda machines master the art of disseminating appealing slogans to twist reality. Their approach is always binary, doctrinaire and repetitive. It reduces everything to an either/or and us/them dilemma. It portrays one party in a positive light and the other in a very negative one.

That is why the view of Tarun Tejpal, writer and editor of Tehelka, is enlightening:

"The real challenge is to present complex things as complex things, and to urge everyone to read them well and to come to terms with them".

Put bluntly, we must not let ourselves be put off by thoughts which seem "congested" with intertwined ideas. We should give them a second and deeper look. Once the gist sinks in, we may or may not agree. Otherwise, we contribute to dumb ourselves down.

The devil is in the detail.

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