Information is a commodity. By extension, truth can also be said to be a commodity. The concept of sharing information is a very recent development. Traditionally, many organizations have sponsored the search for knowledge. Some have done so in order to advance their own positions, others have gathered knowledge with the goal of ultimately hiding it. Still others have funded research with the intention of suppressing the information it contradicts, whether it was true or simply popular. There are many other reasons for the ownership of truth, but the main goals have always been profit and control.
Many institutions have been at the forefront of research in the past. Scholars, philosophers, religions, governments, and corporations have all engaged in information gathering all for their own purposes; but general education is never and has never been the final aim. Some groups, such as the Jesuits, have been at the cutting edge of information gathering as well as being known as ‘educators.’ The filters which are engaged in order to teach that desired knowledge to those who need to know are of crucial importance here. An interesting illustration of this point can be seen in the hundreds of secret societies which have existed throughout the course of history. Every ascent to a higher level (or degree) is accompanied by new information which often contradicts that which was learned previously. So where is the truth in all this? At the highest level, of course. It can thus be assumed that ignorance is the main mechanism of control over those lower down in the pyramidal hierarchy of these organizations.
Nevertheless, we must not assume that only secret societies operate in this way. Truly, all organizations use this system in order to preserve the authority of those at the higher levels. Examples of this structure can be gleaned from all aspects of life. Militaries keep information from governments, governments keep information from the public, and the public keeps information from themselves and each other. Universities keep information to themselves, as do corporations, and even go so far as to take out copyrights or patents on this form of intellectual property. This shows that information is private and the information gathering industry has been, to a very large extent, privatized.
Just as Darwinism helped fuel eugenics, information is only released when its dissemination furthers a global cause.
When people say that they have a right to know something, they must closely examine their position. When institutions fund research, they own the results. As this information is privately owned, no other entity can make any claim to it. If someone owns some bit of truth through the research they funded, sharing this information for free would be a bad business move, and probably illegal in the eyes of their shareholders. When tobacco companies hid the fact that their products cause cancer (based on the research they paid for,) they were doing nothing wrong, legally speaking. They were simply protecting their own information; just as a writer would hide his script or plotline from other writers in order not to get scooped (robbed.) They could just as easily hide the consequences of their products as they could the formulae to them. Coca-Cola and KFC come to mind. So do Galileo and water-powered engines and Tesla’s free energy machines; all good examples of suppressed technologies.
Case in point: let’s say that a company develops a formula for a product which can be introduced to the water supply or the atmosphere and which contains toxic waste. Since waste is only waste when it is wasted; if used as a raw material, waste can be re-classified as an ingredient whose identity can be hidden by a process of industrial secrecy. If it can be shown to be beneficial in any way, the process is approved before any evidence can be gathered to the contrary. Safe until proven harmful. This is how fluorine gets into water, benzene get into cigarettes, CFCs get into the ozone layer, depleted uranium (depleted makes it sound innocuous, doesn’t it?) gets into ammunition, aluminum gets into antiperspirants, pollution gets into the environment, toxins get into vaccines, hormones get into milk and antibiotics get into hamburgers, and how the effects of sugar are concealed. It would seem an easy thing, after all this, to hide the negative implications of GMO foods, smart meters, and international trade negotiations. War is simply another level of the same kind of thinking.
Military research has usually been about forty years ahead of the curve. These days, it could be slightly less, but even if private research does catch up to or surpasses current military technology, that information is purchased, the discoverers are hired, and the information is suppressed at the same time as it is exploited. This preserves an advantage and extends a lever to ‘relations’ with other state actors.
Advantage these days can be measured in nanoseconds and nanometers; as with a sprinter who needs to train for years to drop his record time from eleven to ten seconds, will need to train for several more years in order to drop it to 9.9s. The more pointed the information gets, the less efficiently it will be discovered. How much did the CERN super-collider cost to build, after all? Similarly, the level of education and the scope thereof must be more specific as a consequence. Jack-of-all-trades just won’t cut it anymore; a general and varied education is more than useless, these days. A sharp focus, a specialty is what it takes. There is no such thing as a physicist, as nobody studies all the branches of physics. Even astrophysicists divide themselves into specialties. The divisions are getting sub-divisions. The top-level folders are getting sub-folders, as are they, themselves. Your desktop (therefore your taxonomical habits) say as much about the levels you can hope to achieve in any field as do your skills and abilities.
How do we determine what information should be released? How do we know that that information even exists in order to release it in the first place? How do we know when the generals are lying? The brutal fact of this case is that we cannot. We must trust that the information is being used wisely, and for our benefit. However, what if our detriment is to their benefit? All we have as ballast are whistle-blowers, demonstrators, and conspiracy theorists. Just as we must trust a mechanic to fix our cars and not over-charge us (though many do,) we must also trust the government to look after the public’s best interests. However, the government has many publics and those publics, in turn, have many interests. Which are preserved, which are ignored? Well, it would be a logical conclusion that those issues which are supported by a relatively large percentage of the population (but not necessarily the majority) AND are common to the interests of the government will be pursued. These interests may not represent the majority, rather the majority of the most ‘important’ who have a big dog in the race. This is why the right to protest is conceded, because it almost never accomplishes anything.
Revolution is a different story. It has been said that if more than fifty percent of the population becomes educated (one might say ‘illuminated’ in this the Anno Lucis,) revolution is sure to follow. Therefore, there is a strong impetus in keeping people as ignorant as possible, as far as the government is concerned. We are free to learn how to work, just not free to learn how to think. As long as we contribute to ‘progress’ (whatever that is supposed to be) we are free; when we look to expand understanding, we are ever more tightly constrained.
It is for this reason that the definition of the word terrorism (and others like it) must be tightly constrained. Broad definitions which are open to even broader interpretations are neither ethical, nor democratic, even if they do represent the wishes of those who are deemed to be good judges by those we deem to have good judgement, at least, better than ours – our loyal and trustworthy mechanics. The very concepts which link democracy and science must be the open liberties to question everything. Both are revered; neither are respected.
We must be free to ask.