What do you make of rising fundamentalism?
Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991. With Kara Swisher, he currently co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering is considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries. In addition to Personal Technology, Mr. Mossberg also writes the Mossberg's Mailbox column in the Journal and edits the Mossberg Solution column, which is authored by his colleague Katherine Boehret. On television, Mr. Mossberg is a regular technology commentator for the CNBC network, where he appears every Thursday on the mid-day Power Lunch program. He is also a regular contributor to Dow Jones Video on the Web.
In a major 2004 profile of Mr. Mossberg, entitled "The Kingmaker," Wired Magazine declared: "Few reviewers have held so much power to shape an industry's successes and failures." Mr. Mossberg was awarded the 1999 Loeb award for Commentary, the only technology writer to be so honored. In May of 2001, he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Rhode Island. In May of 2002, he was inducted into the ranks of the Business News Luminaries, the hall of fame for business journalists. That same year, he won the World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.
Walt Mossberg: But we have this bizarre, I think, counter-intuitive situation in which the following is happening. As I’ve already said twice, I think people now have access to more accurate, real information about the world than they have ever, ever had. You could be sitting in the middle of, you know, Siberia or, you know, Alberta or Patagonia; and if you have a computer connected to the Internet you can know a tremendous amount about what’s going on in the world. And yet at the very same time we have this rise in fundamentalism in all religions – not just Islam – in which people are rejecting science, becoming wedded to conspiracy theories instead of what’s really happening, and I think kind of retreating from the complexity all around them. You know there’s this fire hose of information out there and people . . . some people. Not everyone, but some people’s reaction is to say, “I can’t deal with it. I don’t trust it. It must not be true. I’m going back to believing these . . . whatever this guy who is my follower . . . or leader says.” It could be a religious leader, a political leader or whatever. This is what they’re believing. One aspect of that, Islamic terrorism, is especially dangerous because even though it doesn’t represent most of Islam, it is unlike most of the other fundamentalists. It’s armed. It runs some countries, and it has managed to kill a lot of people, both its own . . . both their own people and people here in our country, and elsewhere in the west. So it’s easy to conceive a situation where you get into chaotic, military, and conflict situations that could kind of put at least a temporary halt to progress in education, and technology and other things. And I worry about that.
Recorded on: 9/13/07
Fundamentalism arises from a rejection of information.
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