Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Beware the "fud" 

For too long I've read too many "news" accounts that either distort or omit facts because the facts don't support the author's agenda. I've become particularly frustrated because the impact of making decisions based on distorted or omitted "data" affects everyone. Students especially can be misled since they are often a captured audience. I've been looking for a term to use and finally got one: FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.

It all came together in my class last night. We were reviewing Moore's Law, the statement that the number of transisters on a computer chip would double every 24 months, eventually reevaluated to every 18 months. We heard horror stories that the rate of change would fail in the 1980's; then, 2000 would result in the crash of every stock market on the planet; then science would have reached the end of its computer applicability by 2007, then 2015, now, it's 2045, etc.

The point? No matter what the doom and gloomers say, given enough freedom and open markets, we will keep on improving. As I told my students, the naysayers and doom and gloomers simply have no faith in the human spirit and they will always be there. THerefore, listen to them, assess their words, then get on with your life.