For a long time we have been told that we are moving into a knowledge based society. Politicians and businesspeople are all talking about how important knowledge is in order to develop our society into an even better place and to keep up with the increasing competition from emerging countries. Knowledge and facts are no longer something offered only to some few people at the top of the society, but rather open for everyone only a few clicks away on the internet. With that in mind, it would be easy to think that we would be more driven by actual valid facts with strong evidence. Instead, it seems like truth and facts are being marginalized in discussions, while feelings and personal thoughts and opinions are taking a bigger place in argumentations.
This year is a special one! Lund University is celebrating 350 years in the service of educating students to become well known citizens of both Sweden, Europe and the world, making it one of the oldest university in Sweden. This means that the university has been trough countless historical happenings and different governments. Through these years it has kept up its vision to embrace and educate generation after generation of people with knowledge that have helped to build our country, and get a better under- standing of the world that we live in. Lund University is reoccurring on the list amongst the top 100 universities in the world. It all began after the peace treaty between Sweden and Denmark at Roskilde in 1658. Sweden gained new land from Denmark that today are a part of Sweden, like Skåne county. Soon after this there were many remarks to create a university in this part of the country, since few could afford to go to other universities in Sweden or other countries around that region. It was also expressed that it would be a good investment in order to quickly get people from previous Danish parts into the Swedish society. In the beginning there were four faculties and has since grown into eight with over 60 different institutions, and is constantly growing and offering new courses in different subjects.
The importance of Lund University as a knowledge learning institution has been of vital importance for the southern part of Sweden for a long time. The idea of knowledge as something that is worth sharing and teach to new generations have long been emphasized in their vision. From being something only offered to some lucky few, it can now basically be sought of by anyone who wants to continue to study at a higher level. Over the years, an increasing amount of students have been assigned to different programs, leading to more people getting an higher education than ever before. At the same time we now can find all kind of knowledge and facts only a few clicks away through the internet, a paradigm shift from how it was before when your biggest assets would come from books and lexicons or being told by educated people. It is therefore interesting to look at different discussions in our society today being more centered around feelings and thoughts, rather than facts and knowledge.
Platon described knowledge as a part something that is justified, true, and believed. It might not be the best way to describe it, but it is a simple way to start and view knowledge. To give an example, we can look at the current president of the USA, Donald Trump’s many statements, sometimes carrying little truth and being built on complete lies. Many of the statements are being called and proven to not only be wrong but plain false. To some extent that can be said about a lot of previous presidential candidates, but this time it was not just once or twice and than excused, but it is repeatedly done and continued to be backed by the president even when he is proven wrong. His campaign was built on feelings with little knowledge or facts to back it up. These statements was often made fun of by many people, but the laughter got stuck when the result during the election night started to come in. Being factually correct and having statements built on facts and truths does not seem to matter anymore to become the most powerful man on the planet.
Even though we live in a time with knowledge closer to each and every one of us, it still does not matter when people feel some- thing opposite to the facts. If we are faced with a fact that counters our belief, we can now simply chose to neglect it and look for another fact or statement that shows the opposite. The amount of facts and ideas that now exist so close to everyone might not be the problem itself, but rather the ability to question and to debate them before using it in argumentations. Of course it is not possible to have a critical thinking in everything we hear and take in, it would be hard to constant question everything and think through every possible aspect in your every day life. Sometimes though, we need to stop and think about what we actually are reading or taking in as facts. All this has lead into a discussion today were we are seeing the rise of ”alternative facts” and ”fake news” getting an increasingly amount of space in our society.
One reason of why knowledge is taking a hit by feelings and thoughts could be drawn to the current situation in the international context. When the feeling of insecurity of all the happenings in the world it is easier to react on instincts and feelings rather than keeping calm and use your knowledge and be rational. Earlier we could see big black headlines in newspapers and hear about terrible happenings on the news on the radio and television. Now you are also being fed with countless of pictures and stories in your social medias every day, one worse than the other. Some of them are true, some of them are not, but few care about going to the bottom with many of these stories, it is much easier to either simply believe them or dismiss them. Maybe it is not a problem with knowledge, but rather our ability to be critical of what we hear and read. In hard times we rather go with our instincts, thoughts and feelings than with facts and logic, even though it is more important than ever to do so.