The Harvest of Conspiracies

At some point in the 21st century, we have received a message that has been circulating around social media telling a diabolical story of a new Anti-Muslim spy-wear product on the market planning to tarnish Muslim societies by exposing their women and corrupting their men. Nevertheless, by our common nominees: Jews, Atheists, Liberals, the government, and my personal favorite the Illuminati.

It would be foolish to deny that we have not created an image of the outside world in our imagination that we are targeted by a majority rather than a minority and  everything is either tainted or a lie, which has resulted in the acceptance of unknown individual sources and local rumors over official sources and statements.

We are facing an informational epidemic caused by the lack of interest towards seeking information, an information void, and skepticism towards rational and simpler, more scientific explanations. This has split the public into misinformed and under informed.

Before digging deeper, let’s focus on these two categories. First, the uninformed: This group doesn’t know what it doesn’t know; they merely lack the information necessary to make educated decisions. This group is often submissive, easily persuaded, and sometimes even self-destructive, but rarely passionate. Second, The Misinformed: “This group is most dangerous of the two. I say “dangerous” because unlike the uninformed, the misinformed have a tendency to become enamored with their own beliefs and opinions. Sadly, it seems that the uninformed lack conviction while the misinformed are full of passionate intensity – and unfortunately, passionate ignorance breeds contempt”  [1]

“This group blindly supports the well-known notion that knowledge equals freedom.  Sadly, they are “misinformed” once again. As Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge.” Only correct and accurate knowledge properly applied leads to freedom. But incorrect knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance because it creates new problems while perpetuating old one” – Kent Healy (1)

With that being said let’s go into depth.

The Double P’s: Poverty and Politics

Starting off with our reading crisis: Early 2012 the Arab Thought Foundation released its fourth annual cultural development report stating that  “ An Arab individual on average reads a quarter of a page a year compared to the 11 books read by an American and 7 books by a British person.”[2] Now, the question here is why Arabs choose not to read? Or is this issue rooted a bit deeper?

Factors like poverty in many countries around the Middle East[3] such as 28% in Iraq, 26% in Egypt, and 54.2% in Yemen plays a role, as well as the political turmoil  in the region which leads us to a statement by Alraseef22 reflecting on the issue:

“There is an idea that connects the desire to read with the nature of the political system in place. It is said that where liberty prospers, the number of readers increases. In democratic societies, the individual citizen is seen as an important factor in public life. So, even if it is only a small amount, individuals care about cultural and political output. That is why the numbers about reading in the age in which political ideology prospered among the educated in the Arab World were far greater than those today. And now, because most Arabs have handed their futures over to fate and feel that participation in the public arena is futile, the concern for reading has regressed.”[4]

But what about our educational system?

   Educational systems have a hand in shaping the upcoming generations. Anyone of us studying in the Middle East can tell for a fact that we rarely/never had an assignment requiring us to read a book nor have we taken researches –which one way or another requires reading- seriously. Why write your own research when you can easily pay 200S.R. –more or less- to get one ready for you, right?

As commonly said between school students: “Just copy and paste it” later advancing to what a lot of us are guilty of saying” “Well the professors don’t really care, they will give us the full mark either way” So, even when we are required to gather information we really aren’t informing ourselves of anything. Thus, the reason behind researches and assignments are lost.

I wonder, are our professors and teachers careless and naive? Or have they just given up hope? The odds are on the second.

And Information Flow?

In developing countries we face many problems concerning media, which is a source of information both traditional and new media. There are efforts to prevent information flow due to strict politics, traditional values , or religious concepts. As well as, scarce informational sources and inefficient technological infrastructures to conduct fair researches.

It would be convenient to mention the alarmingly low rates of Arab contribution to both traditional and new media. To be just, we have noticed an increasing contribution by the younger generations to social media, but it has not by any way surpassed the amount of useless contribution contributed by Arab shows that do not educate the average Arab nor does it contain any creativity or individuality from the show before it or after it, yet is has a big audience!

Back to the subject..

To be specific, Arab Media has failed mainly in its inability to broadcast unbiased contents. It’s strategies have failed us in many ways as a nation by focusing on labeling others of the same nation by their religious sect or school of thought, using fabricated historical facts to provoke unrest, and aggravating certain religious sects by stirring up their differences, which usually  results in minor to major conflicts. This raises the constant question of credibility. Not to mention dependency on international news agencies that also give a bias and exaggerated outlook on developing countries. As well as the same information being copied from one media channel to another stirring away the viewers because they don’t have the ability to choose between more than one channel nor  what is more truthful. Inevitably falling in the hands of misinformed or uninformed conspiracy harvesters.

As long as the truth is distorted in any form or way it’s only natural that mankind will resort to forming its own truth, no matter how flawed and unrealistic, if it fills the void and gives closure then it’s enough.

As the proverb goes: “Whatever helps you sleep at night”

[1] http://www.theuncommonlife.com/blog/greatest-problems-uninformed-and-misinformed/

[2] http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/07/14/226290.html

[3] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/02/persistence-poverty-arab-world-160228072928685.html

[4] https://tarjema.com/2015/04/23/how-much-do-arabs-read-and-what-do-they-read/

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One comment

  1. This article is so on point, especially the part about the education sector. The comparason in reading habbits of Arabs and others were just really shocking. I think honestly most of the blame falls on our flawed ducational system. Thank you for writing this, it was an eye opening read.

    Liked by 1 person

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