Credentials vs. Consensus

A person becomes informed when he or she develops an understanding of what the public perceives as informed. I’ll first define phenomena as something that occurs in nature and is directly observable using human senses:
I hear a bird chirp
I smell burning wood
I see sunlight
I touch my foot
I taste water

When people encapsulate observable phenomena into abstracted objects, these phenomena become experiences, and those who are able to translate these experiences into abstracted ideas consistently will gain some form of acceptance amongst all those who observe the phenomena. Social bias has resulted in a great deal of logic and reasoning being needed to turn these experiences into accepted credentials – hence, the development of science and thought throughout civilization. Thus, a credentialed individual can provide explanations for and describe phenomena via credential-verification, by which the population defines someone as having enough credentials that his or her previous observations and abstracted ideas are worthy enough to allow future observations and ideas to be deemed acceptable.

I should note that it is one thing to observe something, but another thing to connect it to an abstract concept, and yet another thing to provide a high-level of logic and reasoning to the abstract concept so that it becomes accepted as truth. In fact, there is a whole system of semantics that deals with how to classify something as truth and hypothesis. This system is so highly regarded that the scientific method is widely taught as the framework for “thinking” in typical modern educational systems.

On the other hand, I may be able to verify something if enough people observe the same phenomena that I do. For example, if I am the only one that sees the moon turn pink every 20 days, and no one else around me seems to have this same observation, then I cannot verify my observation. However, suppose that everyone else around me has also seen the moon turn pink every 20 days. While the entire population may be able to verify the phenomenon amongst its own people, there may still be a lack of an accepted, credentialed abstraction to explain (with a great deal of logic and reasoning) the rationale behind the moon turning pink every 20 days. Furthermore, if the entire population develops an abstracted idea regarded why the moon turns pink every 20 days (i.e. pink rats wake up below the moon surface every 20 days and run around for an evening, then go back underground to sleep), this idea gains consensus-verification

These are not mutually exclusive situations. A strong rationale argument by one may not fly in the face of an overwhelming number of influential disapprovers; likewise, a mob can be persuaded into thinking something without any real logical process. Another issue in the verified-consensus situation is that various levels of logic may gain more acceptance than others. Yet another problem with phenomena in general is that different people will have different observations regarding something that appears to be the same. This is a problem of perception, and it runs rampant throughout observable phenomena, to the dismay of the scientific method.

Consider a major battleground of credentials vs consensus: Wikipedia. Consensus can be made difficult because of the conflicting nature of observations on phenomena, and identity is essentially much harder to verify over the Internet than in real life, let alone someone’s credentials. In the digital age, consensus verification appears to be the much more conclusive pathway for information acceptance. There is something democratic about allowing everyone to have an opinion on what happens during a phenomenon. If enough people agree, then it must be so. However, what grows out of this seemingly-appropriate democratic criteria consensus-verification is that traditionally credentialed individuals are becoming ignored in the face of public perception. Consider a case where an individual attempts to persuade the consensus group that a certain perception about him or her is untrue. While this individual may have knowledge of the “actual truth” on his or her side, it is apparent a past history of deceit will prevent any sort of verification-consensus acceptance of this individual’s words, despite the credentials that this person would clearly have compared to other individuals. Clearly, consensus perception tends to win out over credentials, although credentials can certainly influence consensus perception greatly.

However, societies are changing to accept more diverse points of view, and the natural result of this movement is that observations once disregarded in the past – due to a lack of credentials – are now becoming accepted as possible observations, given a particular point of view.

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