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Source.

Media mogul Arianna Huffington was posed a provocative question:

What if you ruled the world?

Her answer will likely surprise you. Read on if you dare.

From Prospect magazine:

I would order the creation of a high-tech tool that forces us to disengage from our 24/7 connectivity.

Why? “Knowledge has three degrees,” wrote the third-century philosopher Plotinus, “opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense; of the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition.” Our always-on culture has contributed much to the first two kinds of knowledge–science and opinion–but has in many ways taken us further away from our inner resources of wisdom.

We need to pull the plug on our hyper-connectivity; to disconnect from all our devices in order to reconnect with ourselves. Which is why, as ruler, I would oversee the creation of a killer app that gauges the state of your mind, body, and spirit and suggests the steps you need to take to realign yourself. Think of it as an internal GPS, showing you the best, most direct route to your own wisdom and creativity.

We live in a time of high-tech miracles–and I see more explosive wonders just ahead. But, as world ruler, I’d strive to direct all that combustible creativity towards servicing our need for more truth, more transparency, and more wisdom. And getting eight hours sleep per night would be given my World Ruler Seal of Approval.

There is no shortage of Huffington Post critics. I certainly don’t agree with everything she writes or with everything posted on The Huffington Post, but in this case, she makes a very good point. I am dubious about the market for that “killer app that gauges the state of your mind, body, and spirit and suggests the steps you need to take to realign yourself.” Without a doubt, each of us could use realignment from time to time.

Comments

  1. #1 Anon
    February 22, 2011

    Take a look at the alt-text for this recent XKCD: http://xkcd.com/862/

    Randall essentially programmed a reinforcer delay, and his changed schedule resulted in far more focus (practically speaking). It’s not that we necessarily need to disconnect, but we could do worse than to actually understand and examine the environmental contingencies that drive our hyper-connectivity. Simple changes (like Randall’s) can go a long way to curbing our excesses.

  2. #2 Adam_Y
    February 22, 2011

    There is no shortage of Huffington Post critics. I certainly don’t agree with everything she writes or with everything posted on The Huffington Post, but in this case, she makes a very good point

    No she doesn’t. She’s arguinging that you should learn to accept a part of human nature that science bloggers like Orac correctly argue should be marginalized and ignored. In fact its almost the same exact argument from which most people criticize the Huffington Post. A wishy washy treatment that somehow intuition is on equal footing with science.

  3. #3 Bob O`Bob
    February 22, 2011

    Call it a reset of your “perspective” then, if that makes it sound more palatable than “intuition.”

    I have made it a long-standing practice to occasionally engineer breaks of a week or so from my various addictions: Caffeine, sugar, the decongestants and antihistamines which hold my hay-fever allergies at bay … I think “media” makes a good addition to my list, although I’m not certain I could actually give up email for any more than a long weekend.

  4. #4 Austin
    February 22, 2011

    One could argue, quite legitimately, that reflection, intuition, and/or illumination has less to do with “spooky powers” than they have to do with the complex interactions our brains perform. Imagination is an integral part of discovery, because it is from imagination that we posit things currently unknown; granted, one still needs to apply rigorous testing and logic to ensure one’s inspirations are more than just fancy, but one still needs to have the inspiration in the first place.

    I believe I’ve read (but can’t locate, or I’d post them) studies that show a period of “down time” between studying and testing allows greater performance than non-stop testing; the assumption was that the “down time” allowed the brain time to process and associate the information rather than simply “storing” it. From those associations, of course, grow intuitions – which are, to me, merely the subconscious recognition of patterns we aren’t consciously aware of or can’t verbalize.

    Now, I don’t think one necessarily needs to completely disconnect to do this. For example, I take my cell phone with me hiking (though I rarely speak on the phone anyway); I also will, most days, leave all radio and music off while commuting to give myself “daydreaming” time. Then again, I’m a programmer, so I spend a lot of time staring at blank walls trying to build castles (or at least classes) in my head.

  5. #5 Jeff
    February 22, 2011

    Thank you, Austin, for your thoughtful comment. Each of us could benefit from some reflective wool gathering, free from the allure of “connected” devices.

  6. #6 SoulmanZ
    February 22, 2011

    I think that the discussion misses the point. Forcing people to disconnect isnt a solution, except to people as clearly delusional as Arianna “I know best because I listen to intuition”

    Her only answer should have been “provide reasons and education about the benefits of disconnecting, and let people decide for themselves”, if she believes what she was talking about

    Autocratic is a good way to explain her editorial policy as well. Kinda contradicts her call for transparency

  7. #7 Dunc
    February 23, 2011

    Wait – she’s proposing a device (one capable of “gaug[ing] the state of your mind, body, and spirit”, no less) to tell you when to disconnect from your other devices? So far none of my devices actually run my life, so, if your intent is to get people to rely on devices less, this seems like something of a step in the wrong direction… If you actually need a device to tell you when you’re too in thrall to your other devices, it’s already too late. Just go for a walk, or take up a hobby or something. Live your life.

    Also, I’ve never really been a huge fan of raging megalomania.

  8. #8 John
    February 23, 2011

    You want people to be calm, relaxed, and happy? Free them from wage slavery, credit debt, and constant barrages of marketing designed to make them feel inadequate. “Devices” are a red herring. But I suppose if Ariana and her yuppie followers were being honest and admitting that their “balanced spirits” are the products of a low-stress, high privilege lifestyle? Well that might induce some cognitive dissonance. Their place in the world might look unjust. And Arianna’s making her bread, just like a preacher, selling comfortable lies to dodge existential angst.

    B****** if you ask me.

  9. #9 Molly
    February 23, 2011

    I don’t know much about the Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington. However, it’s probably something to notice that this is a hypothetical “if you ruled the world” question. How would you answer that question? It invites creative answers; it’s hypothetical, so they don’t have to be completely thought out and practical.

    As far as objecting to the term “intuition” as non-scientific fluffy nonsense, she explains in the quote that it is from third-century philosophical discourse. That’s going to be a word that has a whole different context in its time period and philosophical discussions than the way it’s used in the common parlance of today. A bit like someone complaining that evolution is “just a theory.”

  10. #10 SoulmanZ
    February 23, 2011

    Molly, c’mon!

    1. What would you do if you could rule the world can be answered by a whole range of things, ranging from empowering to dictatorial. She chose the dictatorial approach, intuitively! Arianna “i know best and even evidence won’t convince me otherwise” at her finest

    2. As far as objecting to the term intuition as fluffy non-science, well she defined it that way. Intuition, she writes, is not guided by evidence, or even the senses. At best all that is left is common sense and at worst she is relying on preconception. That’s how you get answers like “my baby cries after a vaccine shot, it must be bad for them”

  11. #11 Rokkaku
    February 28, 2011

    Toney, were you going to disclose at any point that you’re a Huffington Post writer?

  12. #12 ömer coşkun
    February 28, 2011

    1. What would you do if you could rule the world can be answered by a whole range of things, ranging from empowering to dictatorial. She chose the dictatorial approach, intuitively! Arianna “i know best and even evidence won’t convince me otherwise” at her finest

    2. As far as objecting to the term intuition as fluffy non-science, well she defined it that way. Intuition, she writes, is not guided by evidence, or even the senses. At best all that is left is common sense and at worst she is relying on preconception. That’s how you get answers like “my baby cries after a vaccine shot, it must be bad for them”

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