A challenge forces the brain figuratively to leave the comfort zone and enter a terrain of uncertainty. As a result it creates a gap of information to support one’s view on an issue and leaves gaps in the brain’s structure of knowledge. This “uncertainty effect” has been scientifically evaluated in 2006 by the Boston MIT and led to disturbing conclusions: The brain replaces missing information with an inexplicable fright, an “irrational by-product of not knowing — that keeps us from focusing on the possibility of future rewards”. Frankly: People want to know what they are already inclined to believe.
There has been a paradigm shift in the way we inform ourselves. Eight of ten people in the developed world using the internet. That´s more than most elections have at the ballot. About every fourth internet user is predominantly visiting social networks to use them as an information source. And people still use search engines. While Microsoft’s Bing has an estimated user base of 200 Million searches in 24 hours, Google gets hit with about 3.5 billion search the same day. There are one billion websites available today, with another 5 new ones published each second.
What effect has that abundance of information available to us? With the rise of the internet information sits right at our fingertips — regardless of its quality. Search algorithms, the categorisation of data by program, are ultimately affecting what information we consume. For example, search engines use your location to present results close to you. Or do you think this little bakery around the corner is world-renowned? In the original documents of the Stanford University of California, two students described how to create a search engine that delivers results as “an objective measure of its citation importance that corresponds well with people’s subjective idea of importance”. Again: “people’s subjective idea of importance.” Pagerank. That is Google’s initial white-paper from 1997. The search-rank of a webpage is determined fundamentally by the back-links from other webpages; frankly by the attention a site is already getting on the internet. What seems like a catch-twenty-two for newborn website, is yet a fundamental algorithm (amongst others) that influence our perception of the world. more