Assertions--Social Construction of Knowledge

IS 200, Fall 2000

The Democrat's health plan is financially viable

George W's budget will be good for the economy

Al Gore is a liberal

The "Inheritance Tax" is unfair

School Vouchers will improve public education

The Sydney Olympics helped aborigines

The SF Giants are awesome

Napster is good/valuable/legal

Metallica is a good band

Actors deserve payment for both the re-use of their images in bars, and the re-playing of their performances in secondary distribution markets

Telephone deregulation led to: more competition, better overall service, lower prices

The Time-Warner/AOL merger will be good for consumers

The legalization of "digital signatures" on documents will help consumers

Prop 34 will help reform campaign financing

It is unfair for University Admissions to consider any factors other than test scores

The World Trade Organization was designed to promote equality between nations

Globalization will help poor countries

RU-486 is an important health tool

This toy is safe

The candidates for president are publicly debating tomorrow

H-IV causes AIDS

You need a masectomy

The MTA Strike is over

Kosovo is in Yugoslavia

Bethlehem is in Israel

IS 200 will be a lousy class

  • Many statements of "facts" are actually quite contentious
  • Even what appears to be a simple statement of information (such as where a city is located) can actually be heavily laden with subtext that makes that statement highly contentious in some circles
  • Different people will understand and react to the same information statement in different ways, depending on social background (race, gender, class, life experience, ...) which serves as a set of lenses to focus and distort parts of that statement
  • The same assertion can have different meaning to different people
  • Many forces in society try to mask the existence of different social-based meanings, and instead try to impose their own interpretation of an assertion as the only valid one (subjectivity masquerading as objectivity)
  • Who we trust as an information source is domain-specific
  • Information is not always "neutral" but is a social construct