Toni Weller, a historian and information scientist, examines how history and science must recognize the fallibility of human knowledge, especially so as we enter the information age.
Her paper examines the changing role of human knowledge as a process of story-telling and story-revising (in the tradition of Paul Grobstein). Accepted knowledge, whether scientific or historical, is constantly being revised creating an ongoing generation of new stories and a challenge to existing ones. This raises key questions regarding the nature and provenance of knowledge, and human capacity for retrieving and disseminating its own thoughts.
The 'information age' and the emergence of a truly global society have changed perceptions of how we understand the world, how we have arrived here, and where we might be going. Human culture is being re-evaluated. The dominant themes of the information age have led to a revising of existing historical stories, and revisions have also been made to stories discussing the role and conceptualisation of information and knowledge in society, as these themes have become more prominent in everyday culture.
The paper also considers the dangers of misuse of misrepresentation of knowledge, such as media manipulation, personal and political motives, or intentional misuse of evidence, and suggests how both popular and academic knowledge and information needs to be aware of its own fallibility.
Another way of looking at this debate is as part of human evolution of thought and understanding as a much broader and ongoing cultural process, irrelevant of disciplinary preference. The paper concludes that we may be entering a period which demands a new discourse on the relationship between human knowledge, understanding, and culture.
Based on: Weller, T. (2006). A continuation of Paul Grobstein’s theory of science as story telling and story revising: A discussion of its relevance to history. Journal of Research Practice, 2(1), Article M3. Retrieved March 28, 2006, from http://jrp.icaap.org/content/v2.1/weller.html