Three kinds of knowing and how they have changed (us)

The three kinds of knowing I am going to discuss are:

  • Google
  • FIML
  • Social

Google: Most people with access to the Internet appreciate that there is no longer much to be proud about for displaying many kinds of factual knowledge. Not so long ago knowing the right way to sharpen a knife or the etymology of a strange word counted for something. People usually were impressed and this influenced how we thought of ourselves and others. Google, of course, has changed that.

FIML: Most people today still believe that they can with decent certitude know what other people mean when they speak, what their intentions are, and even what their real intentions are. A mature adult is generally expected to have a sophisticated “theory of mind.” Much else follows from this, for our understanding of who we think we are is based significantly on how we understand others. FIML partners will surely appreciate that we very often do not know what others’ intentions are or even what they mean, even at very basic levels.

Social: The third kind of knowledge that really matters in human life is social—who you know, who they know, what they think of you, etc. Internet social media is surely changing this area by widening social networks. Much more significant than Facebook, though, is the database held by the NSA. If the rumors are true, that database holds a record of all electronic communications for everyone in th USA (and probably the world) for the last ten years. That potentially changes for all time how we are able to understand social networks; how we are able to understand society itself. It will be a long time before a database like that is made available to the public, but it is available to someone right now.


My guess is most people find the way that Google has changed our understanding of information refreshing. Feeling special because you know something is an easy conceit to give up. Similarly, feeling stupid because you don’t know something is a burden that is pleasant to put down. It’s also nice to have to do much less guessing about all kinds of things. If you aren’t sure, you can usually Google the answer. Many Wikipedia articles provide roughly what an expert in the field would be conversant with, or would say to a non-expert.

My reason for writing the above is to briefly raise the subject of how much our access to information has changed and how much that has changed us over the past 10-20 years. The common themes for the three areas discussed are access and reliability. We have better access to more reliable information.

For readers who have not yet tried FIML, I might encourage you by saying that FIML is sort of like a Google for the mind because it will give you better access to more reliable information about yourself and others than you ever had before.

Just as Google is not all that mysterious once you understand it, so neither is FIML. FIML is little else than a technique to access interpersonal information in a way that it has not been accessed traditionally. It takes some time to learn FIML—the full technique is not as simple as it may seem—but it is worth it. It took time to learn Google. Compare how Google has changed you to a grandparent, say, who has not bothered to learn to use a computer.

I don’t expect FIML to become a fad, but I do tend to believe that as brain science improves and accurate brain scans become more accessible, our moral and social sense of how we interact with each other will have to rely on something like FIML rules. When the day comes that anyone can purchase an accurate lie-detector/mood-detector for use at home, the new information will cause social norms to change even more quickly than Google did. We will not be able to continue to pretend that we understand (or can conceal) things about ourselves and each other that are simply not true. FIML helps greatly with this.

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