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Transmission of Intelligence and a Multitude of Plausible Fictions

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
7:35 pm

I just finished reading a fascinating book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, by James Gleick.  My two favorite statements in the book occur in the first chapter and the last:

The first statement is attributed to Claude Shannon, who is generally recognized as the father of information theory.  He wrote a letter to a colleague in 1939, which included this explanation:

I have been working on an analysis of some of the fundamental properties of general systems for the transmission of intelligence.” (emphasis added)

Although “information” has been accepted over “intelligence” as the commonly-used term in this area of science, the concept of transmitting and receiving intelligence has long fascinated me – from a scientific perspective because of my chosen profession and from a theological perspective related to the revelation of intelligence from God to man.

The second statement comes from Gleick himself in the final chapter, as he opined ever so succinctly on our life in an information-overloaded society:

The truth seems harder to find amid the multitude of plausible fictions.

I highly recommend the book. It is, as a USA Today writer stated, “Like the best college courses: challenging by rewarding.”

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