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Meta-Information

Contents  |  Next

PART I

THE BASIC IDEAS OF META-INFORMATION

I. INTRODUCTION

Wipe your glasses with what you know. - James Joyce

If you always know what to do and how to do it when confronted with a problem or a difficulty or a situation to handle, you would rapidly become known as "Wonder Woman" or "Superman"; would there be any challenge that you couldn't master?

The fact is that we often don't know—maybe more often than we'd like to admit.  Our knowledge is far from perfect.  Sometimes, our actions results in unexpected consequences—when did this last happen to you?

A piece of information, in order to contribute to the general information of the community, must say something substantially different from the community's previous common stock of information. - Norbert Wiener ("The Human Use of Human Beings:  Cybernetics and Society")

And if you think that the supposed "Great Authorities" (the so-called "Queen" or "President," the pretended "United Nations," the worshipped "Pope," the "certified professor," the admired "guru," the self-proclaimed "expert," the projected "gods," "Lady Luck," the "wise flying saucer sages," etc.), know what to do and how to do it, then why do so many people in the world suffer?  For centuries, people have hoped that someone would arrive from somewhere to save us.  What have been the consequences of this hope?  Stalin?  Hitler?

The less you understand, the more ready you are to give reverence.  You know Hitler better than Nietzsche... - Wilhelm Reich ("Listen, Little Man!")

Could it be that "I hope someone else will do something about it" is an attitude which should be regarded as "the great perpetrator of human misery and suffering"?

One must be very humane to say, "I don't know that," to afford ignorance. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Will to Power")

If you think about it, you may come to see that ignorance is, in fact, the only real problem in the world.  If we know what to do about any problem and how to do it, we would handle that difficulty and it would cease to be a problem.  Can you think of any issue to which this does not apply?  Of course, once we recognize our ignorance, we can do something about it.

But what if we are unaware of our ignorance?  Ignorant of our ignorance?  What happens then?  An important principle of meta-information:  Ignorance tends to hide itself.  (The principle of meta-ignorance!)

"Something's up, young Hank, something's abroad, we're stirring in our long sleep.  Something vast and new, as when Moses came down from the mountain, evolution is converging, the glory of man is beginning to force up a little green shoot through all the crap and crud of what's called reality." - A. Rogers St. Johns ("Tell No Man")

Meta-information is a tree growing in the ground of personal power, responsibility, and freedom.  It is an attempted answer to these questions:

(A) How can I increase my individual power (without abuse)?
(B) What can I do to become more responsible (to respond more effectively and appropriately to the challenges of life)?
(C) How can I expand the ability to live my life the way I want to (without harming others)?

There are serious problems in the world.  What can be done?  If I can find workable answers to the above three questions, then I become more powerful, responsible, and free.  If I can assist my family, friends, and acquaintances to do the same, we can form a team that might achieve something.  If many other people do the same, maybe eventually there will be a sufficient number of powerful, free, and responsible individuals—a critical mass—to make a real and lasting difference in the world.  To this end, a large network of mutually supportive individuals is being established.  This network is called the "meta-information network."

The basic notion underlying the idea of a meta-information network is that during the past fifty years, there has been an information revolution; the nature of this revolution has primarily been an explosion in the volume or quantity of information in the world; there are now both the need and the scope for an evolution in the quality of information:

The purpose of the meta-information network is the identification, generation, dissemination, and application of information of a higher order or quality called "meta-information."  

The concept of meta-information could be more easily understood by thinking of the metaphor of "pearls of wisdom."  We live in a sea of information.  In this sea, there are "pearls of wisdom."  How do we find these "pearls"?  How do we clean and shine these "pearls"?  How do we convince people that these "pearls" are valuable?  How do we distinguish between real "pearls" and fake "pearls"?  How do we persuade people to wear real "pearls"?  How do we market these gems?  These are the problems of meta-information.

A noteworthy example of "meta-information in action" has been provided to us by the work of Fritz Schumacher.  His catch-phrases, "Small is beautiful," and "Economics as if people mattered," have inspired the imaginations of millions.  Schumacher identified certain "pearls of wisdom" (particularly relating to the economics of less-developed parts of the world).  He found effective ways of communicating these "pearls" (meta-information) and getting them applied.  (And I don't suggest that Schumacher's ideas be accepted uncritically; see the definition of "critical" - Section 3.)

In the heaven of Indra, there is said to be a network of pearls so arranged that if you look at one, you see all the others reflected in it.  - Buddhist Sutra

An excellent example of "meta-information in action" was the life and work of Abraham Maslow.  Widely acknowledged as "the father of humanistic psychology," Maslow studied an extremely wide range of information:  medicine, psychology, psychiatry, biology, anthropology, religion, mythology, sociology, management, politics, philosophy, the lives and operating principles of successful individuals, anarchism, "peak experiences."  His thinking continued to evolve until the end of his life.  He influenced numerous other psychologists; he succeeded in persuading people in business to apply the meta-information he had developed, synthesized, and refined.  (Again, I am not suggesting that Maslow's ideas be accepted uncritically.)

I have a very strong sense of being in the middle of a historical wave.  One hundred and fifty years from now, what will the historians say about this age?  What was really important?  What was going?  What was finished?  My belief is that much of what makes the headlines is finished, and the "growing tip" of mankind is what is now growing and will flourish in a hundred or two hundred years, if we manage to endure.  Historians will be talking about this movement as the sweep of history, that here, as Whitehead pointed out, when you get a new model, a new paradigm, a new way of perceiving, new definitions of the old words, words which now mean something else, suddenly you have an illumination, an insight.  You can see things in a different way. - Abraham Maslow ("The Farther Reaches of Human Nature")

I don't want to wait that long. - "AS"

The idea of the meta-information network, then, is that individuals and groups who have discovered or identified "pearls of wisdom" are provided with a vehicle for contacting one another, to share their "pearls," to cooperate, to be of greater service to both themselves and to others.  The intention and expectation is that cross-pollination and cross-catalyzation of the most valuable "pearls" will occur to the mutual benefit of all concerned and to the world in general.  Possibly, a harmonious process of synergy will develop:  the combined effectiveness of the whole network being greater than the sum of the efforts of the individual participants.

Vision, a sense of vision.  It is important that we visualize the future we desire.  If we have abandoned earlier visions—due to "failure," disappointment, disillusionment—it is important that we recreate our vision...what is your vision for your own future?  For the future of the planet?

The problems we now have in communities and societies are going to be resolved only when we are brought together by a common sense that each of us is visionary.  Each of us must come to the realization that we can function and live at the level of vision rather than following some great leader's vision.  Instead of looking for a great leader, we are in an era where each of us needs to find the great leader within ourselves. - Werner Erhard

Or—maybe—when we each become visionary, and learn to cooperate, without having to be "brought together"? - "AS"

Questions?...Answers.  Questions are more important than answers.  The right questions will lead to more valuable knowledge.  The first question:  What questions should we ask?  Are there basic principles we are unaware of?  If so, what prevents us from discovering these principles?  Do our "answers" prevent us from looking further?  Are "answers" interim limitations to be transcended?  What is natural to people?  What is human nature?

Nothing in this paper is final.  All that has been written here must be considered as "open research."  Putting together the ideas here presented has been a humbling experience.  The more I have looked, the more have I been confronted with the extent of my ignorance.  Can you afford the arrogance of assuming that there is no knowledge, the knowing of which will transform your ability to actualize your vision—your vision for yourself—your vision for the world in general?

All ideals are dangerous:  Because they debase and brand the actual, all are poisons, but indispensable as temporary cures. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Will to Power")

(NOTE:  This paper contains many quotations from Nietzsche's "The Will to Power."  It may be important to realize that "The Will to Power" was published posthumously from the notebooks Nietzsche carried with him on his travels and that this material was not necessarily intended by Nietzsche for publication.)

A crucial factor—greatly influencing the likelihood that we will (or won't) achieve or actualize our visions—is our brain power.  It is an assumption of this paper that the human brain is much more powerful than most of us realize.  Our effectiveness in dealing with our own lives, and with the world in general, largely depends on developing the power of our brains.  

In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally.  These limits are further beliefs to be transcended.  In the mind, there are no limits. - John Lily ("The Human Biocomputer")

Why "meta-"?  Basically, it means "behind," or "beyond," or "more evolved"; so we can talk of an "information evolution."  Meta-information also deals with "how information is held," or "the manner of knowing," also called "epistemology."  "How one goes about knowing" lies behind or underneath "what one knows."  Our "knowledge" rests on a "system of knowing" (or "system of belief") called epistemology.  Usually, we are not aware of our system of knowing; most of us take that for granted, without inspection or examination.  In order to look at our system of knowing, we have to "step outside" it.  This can be very difficult and disconcerting, and that is what evolution is basically about:  "stepping outside" the previous limitations.

This "meta-information evolution" is still in its infancy.  The earliest steam engines of the industrial revolution were not very efficient and did not work very well; so, it would be realistic to expect that the early attempts at greatly improving the quality of information will be prone to error and inefficiency.  I ask you to be lenient with any serious errors of omission or commission I may have perpetrated in this paper.  Rather than your condemnation, I would appreciate your suggestions for improvement.

Each time we outflow, it is an experiment; we won't know what is going to happen until we deliver it and then notice what happened.  All action is that way.  All our action is experimental.  The only way to know what is going to happen is to do it and to notice what happens. - Stewart Emery ("Actualizations")

I think it is important to stress that in the course of this paper, many generally-held human values will be questioned, criticized, and sometimes ridiculed.  For quite some time, it has been clear to me that people generally attempt to do the best on the basis of their beliefs and values and on the information available to them.  I regard people, generally, as logical, rational, and OK.  In my opinion, the problems in the world are not "people problems," but information problems.  There is really only one problem—namely, ignorance:  incorrect information, incomplete information.  So I ask you to interpret all my criticisms and attacks as directed against information which I consider faulty, and not against any individuals.  Please don't take it personally!

For instance, I have already referred to Hitler.  Now, you may think that I regard Hitler as having been evil; but was he really evil?  Hitler had certain values, beliefs, and knowledge available to him.  He acted and behaved according to this information.  Consider the possibility that Hitler did the best he could, given the information available to him.  Similarly, the people who voted for Hitler and financed him did so as a result of the information available to them—and because this was the best they could do, given their information.  Should we regard the people who voted for Hitler, paid taxes to him, and obeyed him, as evil?  I don't think so; they did their best, given their values and beliefs; furthermore, the people who voted against Hitler— thereby supporting the political process and surrendering their individual power to a system that could be subverted by Hitler—did so in accordance with their beliefs and values.  Should they be regarded as evil?  I don't think so; given their information, they did the best the could.  Now, consider this (outrageous and preposterous?) viewpoint:  Hitler was one of the greatest heroes of all time; he demonstrated dramatically what can happen when people vote, pay taxes, and obey!

There are also obstacles or barriers or restraining forces that inhibit the evolution of information toward higher quality.  I have put a great deal of thought into the question:  What prevents the growth of quality knowledge?  What are the most basic obstacles?  I am not at all certain that I have identified the most fundamental factors; what do you think?

Tentatively, I have identified eight basic items:

(a) Deception;
(b) Violence-blindness;
(c) Fear;
(d) Success;
(e) Arrogance;
(f) Hope;
(g) Protest
(h) Rigidity.

(This whole issue of "obstacles to quality information" will be covered in some detail in Section 33.)

In Section 4, I will attempt to show that the processes of understanding and deception are very closely related.  In Section 18, I will contend that deception is much more widespread than most of us suspect.  Suppose that we live not only in a sea of information, but also in a sea of deception—or a sea of deceptive information, if you like.

We could, in fact, conceive of a continuum of information.  At one extreme would be "ultimate quality;" at the other extreme, "ultimate deception."  The essence of meta-information, then, is:  How do we speed up evolution toward quality?  How do we overcome deception?

It may be useful, here, to make a distinction between "nuts-and-bolts information" and "human behavior information" or "hard science" and "soft science."  In the case of engineering and physical science, accurate measuring can be done, bridges can be built, the relative success or failure of whatever information is applied can be readily tested and evaluated; workable concepts, principles, and formulas have been developed, which can be accurately defined, widely agreed upon, and effectively utilized—enabling us to put a man on the moon.

"Hard information" = difficult deception.

In the behavioral sciences, on the other hand, measuring is difficult, if at all possible.  What can we usefully measure?  What worthwhile results can be derived from the "measurements" of psychology, sociology, economics, and politics?  What religion is based on meticulous observation, accurate measurement, and rigorous testing?  Can we define workable basic concepts?  How can we build a bridge and test whether it stands or falls?

But what about the possibility that all our "physical science information" is false:  Expedient deception that happens to work reasonably well, developed through trial and error?  We could write a book on the principles of bridge building (a thick book, admittedly), which contains pretty well all that is known to humans about building bridges.  Engineers from all over the world would agree that this book contains practically all the available information on bridge building, and it is substantially correct.  Any engineer could utilize the information in this book to build a bridge that would stand a hundred years or more.  Could we say that, at worst, the book contains convenient and expedient falsehood that happens to work; and, at best, useful approximations and generalizations?

Could it be that in the domain of human behavior, we are confronted with a qualitatively different degree of complexity and randomness compared to the bridge-building domain?  Could it be that in the human domain, "bridge-building thinking" does not work very well?

In the behavioral sciences, few of the "bridges" (or supposed "institutions") that we build take us across the "valley" or "river."  The "bridges" collapse often; they are usually not expected to last more than a few years.  Why can't we build "bridges" that take us over the "valley" and that stand for a hundred years?  Do we need "bridges" at all?  Are there "valleys" we need to cross?  Any why, oh why, do the "bridges" apparently declare war on one another?  Why do humans believe that there are, can be, or should be, such "bridges"?  Do these beliefs result in millions of humans slaughtering one another?

I believe because it is absurd. - Tertullian

Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities. - Voltaire

Can we survive without beliefs?  Is it not absurd to believe that anything can be "true"?  Can beliefs be refuted?  Or are beliefs regarded as "true," really diseases from which their victims need to be cured? - "AS"

What if all the information we have developed in the behavioral sciences is false?  What if it is impossible to obtain correct information in this domain?  Firstly, in the human domain, there is only change, or becoming, so no information could be correct but for a fleeting second!  Secondly, because all changes all the time, there can be no "existence," no "things," no "beings."  We "are" not human "beings"—we occur as human "becomings."  Maybe all our concepts, all our language, in the "soft sciences" are grossly and absurdly erroneous!  Maybe (rather, "may occur"!) in this domain, there can only appear errors, lies, and deception...?

If this is so (if this becomes or occurs so!), then should we not perhaps destroy, annihilate all our supposed "knowledge," all our concepts, all our language in this domain and start again from zero?  And if it is so difficult, if at all possible, to generate workable information in this domain, what monumental arrogance does it take for some human becomings to say, "We know what is best for you; if you don't obey our orders, we will kill you:?  Is this not the basis of our political "bridges"?

In any case:

"Soft Information" = easy deception.

By "violence-blindness", I mean:  The general human inability to recognize violence, except in its most extreme forms.  For most of us:  The knives have to flash, the bullets have to fly, the blood has to flow, the victims have to scream in terror, the atom bombs have to explode before we notice that violence has occurred; what does this have to do with the quality of information?

Have you heard of censorship and "compulsory education"?  In most parts of the world, the threat of violence is used to prevent the communication of certain information; similarly, the thereat of violence is used to force parents to send their children to places called "schools."

I want to suggest to you that we can also conceive a violence continuum:  At one extreme is planetary destruction through nuclear bombs; at the other extreme are the most subtle forms of violence.  Censorship and "compulsory education" are far from the subtle end of the spectrum; they are already quite extreme forms of violence, yet most of us cannot even recognize them as violence.

I also want to suggest the idea that violence is similar to cancer:  A few unchecked cancerous cells quickly grow and multiply until they destroy the entire organism...

The second most subtle form of violence, I think, is to relinquish personal power or responsibility to another or others.  (This will be covered in Section 24.)

If we accept the notion that much of human behavior stems from concepts in the mind, can we then conclude that some concepts breed violence?  What would these concepts be?  Can we surmise that the most subtle form of violence is to carry violence-breeding concepts in one's brain?

In order to reduce violence in the world, might it be necessary that we eradicate certain violence-breeding concepts from our brains?

The most direct link between violence and poor information is that the professional practitioners of violence tend to use deception to disguise their violence; hence, censorship and "compulsory education."

In olden times, the best practicers of Tao did not use it to awaken the people to knowledge, but used it to restore them to simplicity.  People are difficult to govern because they have much knowledge; therefore, to govern the country by increasing the people's knowledge is to be the destroyer of the country; to govern the country by decreasing their knowledge is to be the blesser of the country.  To be acquainted with these two ways is to know the standard; to keep the standard always in mind is to have sublime virtue.  Sublime virtue is infinitely deep and wide—it goes reverse to all things, and so it attains perfect peace. - Tao Te Ching

I strongly recommend that you read the "Tao Te Ching" (the above is from the translation by Ch'u Ta-Kao);that you study it carefully; but, where it says "Tao," you read "deception;" and where it says, "sage," you read "Chinese Machiavelli."  By the way, in the above quotation, also replace "sublime virtue" with "deception;" "peace" with "war;" "the country" with "hell;" and "virtue" with "vice."  The Tao Te Ching is a superb example of inversion and deception.  

Because most of us are blind to all but the most extreme forms of violence, the professional "practicers of Tao" get away with controlling some mediums of communication (radio, TV, etc.) and "education" (maybe "inducation" is a better word) through the use of violence or the threat of violence; they even induce us to finance them (through taxes and inflation) and to "vote" for them.  

And—maybe—their "inducation" consists largely of implanting violence-breeding and stupefying concepts.  

We must modify or even abandon some of our concepts when we expand the realm of our experience of field of study. - Fritjof Capra ("The Turning Point")

(I am deliberately refraining, at this point, from giving examples of concepts which I regard as violence-breeding or stupefying; instead, I suggest that you start examining your own concepts for correctness.  In the course of this paper, several examples will be given or hinted at.)

She looked at the Queen, who seemed to have suddenly wrapped herself up in wool.  Alice rubbed her eyes and looked again.  She couldn't make out what had happened at all.  Was she in a shop?  And was that really—was it really a sheep that was sitting on the other side of the counter? - Lewis Carroll ("Through the Looking Glass")

Could it be that Alice had had the wool pulled over her eyes? - "AS"

Fear is a very important barrier to quality information in that many of our concepts and ideas were taken into our minds under duress or as a reaction to fear.  When these ideas or concepts are questioned, the fear tends to get re-stimulated.  This fear reaction may manifest as anger.  The subject of fear will be more extensively covered in Sections 22 and 24.

The importance of success as an obstacle to meta-information stems from this cycle:  Make an assumption; do a practical test to see if it works; the test is successful in that the desired results have been achieved; repeat the test several times, with the same results; the assumption has been proved correct—no need to look any further.  ("We've always done it this way, and it's always worked; why change now?")  The tests could have "worked" for reasons other than the assumption.

Arrogance is probably the culmination of deceit, violence-blindness, fear, and success; but, I think, important enough to be regarded as a discrete obstacle to improved knowledge.  Arrogance is saying:  "I know the answer," "I am certain," "This is it."  Arrogance is:  The "quest for certainty," the hope for "final answers."

Hope is the abrogation of personal responsibility; instead of doing something about it, I will "hope" that "someone else" will solve the problem.  Arrogance and hope go together like a horse and carriage:  The hopeful "vote" for, worship, and finance the arrogant; and the clever horse (who is both arrogant and deceitful), persuades the duped passenger that the latter holds the reins...

It must be emphasized that meta-information is not about "opposing what is wrong."  No; it is, rather, about "stepping outside" the system.  I think it can be an error to get bogged down in trying to "fix what is wrong."  The more radical and extreme approach is to "jump out of the system" and to create an original, new system which is not a continuation (with modifications) of the old system.  What needs to be created is far more important than the perceived "obstacles."  At the same time, the obstacles should be ignored.  Section 33 will cover, in some detail, the obstacles to quality knowledge, as I perceive them.

The obstacle called protest ("opposing what is wrong"?) is discussed in more detail in Section 12.  At this point, some preliminary remarks:  When in a condition or state of protest, it may be difficult to think clearly, to examine information impartially and objectively—particularly if the protest includes mis-emotion.  The nature of this paper is such that aspects of it will send some readers into a state of protest.  Notice that if this happens to you, there may be a strong urge to reject all or most of the contents of this book.  

Rigidity, as we become older, our bodies—particularly our bones—tend to become more rigid, less supple.  Similarly, there is a tendency for our concepts, ideas, beliefs, and habits to become more rigid.  Not only do some of us suffer from a hardening of our arteries and a stiffening of our bones, but also from a calcification of our concepts.  "Certainties" that have to be conserved at all cost:  An obvious obstacle to the acquisition of quality knowledge.  

There are three basic ideas that can be regarded as the crux of meta-information:

(a) Meta;
(b) Context;
(c) Quality.

"Meta" has to do with "getting out and going beyond."  "Context" has to do with "what it is we have to get out of" (context is often difficult to perceive, and sometimes invisible).  "Quality" is "what we discover when we get out of and go beyond a particular context" - like the bright sunshine behind a black cloud.  

The above can be illustrated by Plato's myth of the prisoners chained in a cave.  ("Meta" has to do with breaking the chains.)  The prisoners see shadows moving on walls of the cave.  They mistake these for reality.  ("Context has to do with the shadows on the wall of the cave.)  Outside the cave is the bright real world.  ("Quality" has to do with what is outside the cave.")

It is a contention of meta-information that most humans are chained in caves, not by physical chains, but by debilitating and stupefying concepts, beliefs, habits, expectations, and emotions.  Most attempts to become free of the chains have been at the level of "fighting the shadows on the wall" - like Libertarians saying, "If Big Brother changes the law, we will be free."  But what if the unexamined context includes the mistaken idea that some people constitute "Big Brother" because "everybody believes it") and that this supposed "Big Brother" can "make laws"?  What if it is the very notion that "Big Brother makes laws" which keeps people chained to the wall in the cave?  If this were so, would attempts to "change the law," in the long run, not fortify the chains?

In terms of physical survival, the human race is a phenomenal success.  On major portions of the land surface of Earth, many of us live comfortable lives, in relative peace, with adequate food, shelter, and satisfaction.  To a considerable extent, we have mastered nature.  We utilize an abundance of resources to meet our needs and wants.  We have developed amazing technological machines to work for us—even to think for us.  We have, amongst us, numerous highly-advanced women and men specialists to cater to our spiritual, social psychological, philosophical, economic, and sexual needs.  We have created organizational methods, techniques, and systems which enable many small and large groups to cooperate productively and harmoniously.   There are now over four billion of us.  Most of us die from natural causes.  Compared to other species, we seem the height of evolution and civilization.  Let us never underestimate our achievements:  We have created a relative paradise on Earth.

While writing the above paragraph, about 300 people starved to death or died from disorders related to malnutrition; several people were murdered by fellow humans; several more died in riots, terrorist campaigns, and wars around the globe.  The world seems to be suffering from numerous other problems:  Strikes, crime, inflation, unemployment, energy crises, drug addiction, scarcity of resources, pollution, boredom, ballooning debts, poverty, greed, conflict, violence, bankruptcy, frustration, rape, packed jails, unhappiness, poor health, depression, suicide, insanity.  Many regard all this as hell on Earth.  Some say we have passed the point of no return; it is too late; we are doomed to extinction; the human race is a total failure.  

All preachers of morals, as well as theologians, share one bad habit—all of them try to con men into believing that they are in a very bad way and need some ultimate, hard, radical cure.  Because humanity has listened to these teachers too eagerly for whole centuries, something of this superstition that they are in a very bad way has finally stuck.  Now, they are only too ready to sigh, to find nothing good in life, and to sulk together, as if life were really had to endure.  Actually, they are overwhelmingly sure of their life and in love with it, and they know innumerable ruses and subtle tricks to vanquish what is disagreeable and to pull the fangs of pain and misfortune. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Gay Science")

Have we not available to us the intellect, the technology, and the resources to solve all our material and psychological needs and wants?  Why, then, do we experience apparently insurmountable problems?

At the beginning of the last two decades of our century, we find ourselves in a state of profound world-wide crisis.  It is a complex, multi-dimensional crisis whose facets touch every aspect of our lives:  our health and livelihood, the quality of our environment and our social relationships, our economy, technology, and politics.  It is a crisis of intellectual, moral, and spiritual dimensions; a crisis of a scale and urgency unprecedented in recorded human history.  For the first time, we have to face the very real threat of extinction of the human race and of all life on this planet. - Fritjof Capra ("The Turning Point")  

"Wei-ji," the symbol for "crisis," consists of the two characters for "danger" and "opportunity."  The danger in the human situation is that we have created—and live in—a black cloud of misinformation and deceit.  Traditional knowledge, information, and control systems (religion, politics, education, philosophy, psychology, and economics) have failed and are failing—even threatening our extinction.  

Revaluation of all values:  This is my formula for an act of supreme coming-to-oneself on the part of mankind which in me has become flesh and genius.  It is my fate to have to be the first decent human being to know myself in opposition to the mendaciousness of millennia...I was the first to discover the truth in that I was the first to sense—smell—the lie as lie...My genius is in my nostrils...I contradict as has never been contradicted and am nonetheless the opposite of a negative spirit.  I am a bringer of good tidings such as there has never been; I know tasks from such a height that any conception of them has hitherto been lacking; only after me is it possible to hope again.  With all that I am necessarily a man of fatality, for when truth steps into battle with the lie of millennia, we shall have convulsions, an earthquake spasm, a transposition of mountain and valley such as has never been dreamed of.  The concept politics has then become completely absorbed into a war of spirits, all the power structures of the old society have been blown into the air—they, one and all, reposed on the lie... - Friedrich Nietzsche ("Ecce Homo")

Nietzsche exposed many of the lies used by those seeking to dominate others through deception and violence.  Nietzsche was also somewhat arrogant, which may have been a barrier to the communication of the meta-information he generated.  In all humility, we could also consider the possibility that Nietzsche was not exaggerating when he titled three chapters of "Ecce Homo":  "Why I Am So Wise," "Why I Am So Clever," and "Why I Write Such Excellent Books;" for example, consider the following, which he wrote in 1888:

Physicists believe in a "true world" in their own fashion:  A firm systematization of atoms in necessary motion, the same for all beings...but they are in error.  The atom they posit is inferred according to the logic of the perspectivism of consciousness and is, therefore, itself a subjective fiction.  This world picture that they sketch differs in no essential way from the subjective world picture:  It is only construed with more extended senses, but with our senses nonetheless—and in any case, they left something out of the constellation without knowing it:  Precisely this necessary perspectivism by virtue of which every center of force—and not only man—construes all the rest of the world from its own viewpoint—i.e., measures, feels, forms, according to its own force—they forgot to include this perspective-setting force in "true being"—in school language:  the subject...

Perspectivism is only a complex form of specificity.  My idea is that every specific body strives to be master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back al that resists its extension.  But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it:  Thus, they conspire together for power, and the process goes on... - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Will to Power")

If any one person can be regarded as "the father of meta-information," that honor must certainly go to Friedrich Nietzsche.  (And I am not suggesting that any of Nietzsche's ideas be accepted without careful examination, testing, and evaluation.  His opinions on women, for example, should not be taken too seriously.)  A study of the following books by Nietzsche can be regarded as a basic course in meta-information:

(a) "Ecce Homo"
(b) "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"
(c) "The Will to Power"
(d) "Twilight of the Idols"
(e) "The Anti-Christ"
(f) "Beyond Good and Evil"
(g) "The Gay Science"
(h) "On the Genealogy of Morals"

The main reason for reading Nietzsche's books is that they constitute a unique course in thinking—maybe still one of the most advanced courses available.  Independence of mind (and self-reliance in general); fearless questioning of any and all "knowledge" and "truth;" the courage to think differently; a profound psychologist; a brilliant prose stylist; an accomplished poet; flexibility of point of view; the ability to home in and focus on the crux or essence of an issue; the faculty for repeatedly approaching any particular issue from many different angles; the bold exposure of the lies and deceit unearthed—these were some of the attributes of Friedrich Nietzsche.  

You will also find that "meta," "context," and "quality" are recurring themes in Nietzsche's writings—"Beyond Good and Evil;" "Perspectivism;" "Dionysian Nobility"...

Warning:  Nietzsche wrote (in "Ecce Homo") "I am not a man, I am dynamite."  Nietzsche's philosophy is powerful dynamite.  Like any powerful tool, it can be used very creatively and very destructively.  Nietzsche was, for example, extensively quoted in the Nazi literature.  In 1889, at the age of 44, eleven years before his death, Nietzsche became insane.  This was probably a consequence of syphilis.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.  And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("Beyond Good and Evil")

Someone took a youth to a sage and said:  "Look, he is being corrupted by women."  The sage shook his head and smiled.  "It is men," said he, "that corrupt women; and all the failings of women should be atoned by and improved in men.  For it is man who creates for himself the image of woman, and woman forms herself according to this image.

Wherever Jews have won influence, they have taught men to make finer distinctions, more rigorous inferences, and to write in a more luminous and cleanly fashion; their task was every to bring a people "to listen to reason."

The greatest danger that always hovered over humanity and still hovers over it is the eruption of madness—which means the eruption of arbitrariness in feeling, seeing, and hearing, the enjoyment of the mind's lack of discipline, the joy in human unreason. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Gay Science")

The fact that we live in a sea of deceit and misinformation constitutes a tremendous opportunity for those who can perceive the lies—provided they don't oppose the purveyors of deception head on.  It is an objective of the meta-information network to assist individual participants in equipping themselves with the necessary knowledge to become more powerful and to survive and prosper in times of acute crisis.  How?  Read on...

The application of meta-information starts with the attainment of individual responsibility, power, and freedom.

Individual responsibility, power, and freedom are a function of:

(a) Recognizing and "stepping out" of limiting, debilitating, impoverishing, and stupefying concepts, beliefs, and habits, unconscious unrealistic expectations, and involuntary emotions;
(b) Brain-power development; and
(c) The acquisition of quality knowledge.

To achieve individual responsibility, power, and freedom, you have to be willing to "let go" any piece of information you now regard as sacred...

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it ware care; they pursued it with forks and with hope; they threatened its life with a railway-share; they charmed it with smiles and soap. - Lewis Carrol ("The Hunting of the Snark")

If Friedrich Nietzsche is the father of meta-information, then Lewis Carrol is the uncle...

"But o beamish nephew, beware of the day
If your snark be a boojum!  For then,
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!"

It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

I engage with the snark—every night after dark—
In a dreamy, delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use if for striking a light;

But if I ever meet with a boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away—
And the notion I cannot endure!

- Lewis Carrol
("The Hunting of the Snark")

The honor of "grandfather of meta-information," I declare hereby bestowed upon Jonathan Swift...

...I had frequently run over the whole system how I should employ myself, and pass the time if I were sure to live forever.

...I would first resolve by all arts and methods whatsoever to procure myself riches...in the second place, I would from my earliest youth apply myself to the study of arts and sciences, by which I should arrive in time to excel all others in learning...by all which requirements, I should be a living treasury of knowledge and wisdom...

...I would entertain myself in forming and directing the minds of hopeful young men...but, my choice and constant companions should be a set of my own immortal brotherhood, among whom I would elect a dozen from the most ancient down to my own contemporaries...

These struldbruggs [immortals] and I would mutually communicate our observations and memorials through the course of time, remark the several gradations by which corruption steals into the world, and oppose it in every step, by giving perpetual warning and instruction to mankind; which, added to the strong influence of our own example, would probably prevent the continual degeneracy of human nature so justly complained of in all ages. - Jonathan Swift ("A Voyage to Laputa")

Gulliver carried a "perspective" (now called a telescope) in his pocket.  The common theme throughout his travels is the shift of perspective (or context), and it seems quite likely that Lewis Carroll was influenced, if not inspired, by Swift...

Neither indeed could I forbear smiling at myself, when the Queen used to place me upon her hand towards a looking-glass, by which both our persons appeared before me in full view together; and there could nothing be more ridiculous than the comparison:  So that I really began to imagine myself dwindled many degrees below my usual size. - Jonathan Swift ("A Voyage to Brobdingnag")

Like Nietzsche, Swift confronted and exposed the falsehood, hypocrisy, and corruption so pervasive (today as then) in much of human behavior...

He has taken a view of human nature, such as a being of a higher sphere might take of it; he ha torn the scales from off his moral vision; he has tried an experiment upon human life, and sifted its pretensions from the alloy of circumstances; he has weighed it in a balance, and found it, for the most part, wanting and worthless—in substance and in show...it is an attempt to tear off the mask of imposture from the world; and nothing but imposture has the right to complain of it. - William Hazzlitt

And Swift ranged far and wide over the perspectives and techniques of communication:  At times, he was the cruel philosopher with a sledge hammer (from whence Nietzsche could have taken his cue); elsewhere, he revealed his master touch of subtlety and circumspection (if not circumlocution?); for example, when dealing with the ceremony of "trampling upon the crucifix"...

Do these miserable animals presume to think that I am so far degenerated as to defend my veracity?  Yahoo, as I am, it is well-known through all Houyhnhnmland, that by the instructions and example of my illustrious master, I was able in the compass of two years (although I confess with the utmost difficulty) to remove that infernal habit of lying, shuffling, deceiving, and equivocating, so deeply rooted in the very soul of all my species; especially the Europeans. - Jonathan Swift ("A Letter" - April 2, 1727)

Meta-information is an attempted synthesis of the best and most valuable information available, including techniques for identifying and generating valuable knowledge.  Who would be interested in meta-information?  First, of all, myself.  In putting together all this material, I have learned something about me, my decisions, my conclusions.  In throwing all this out into the open, I am giving others the opportunity to contribute to my life by responding.  Some might reject this whole subject in a few words:  "A lot of rubbish;" "You're a nihilists like Nietzsche;" "You are writing out of hatred, not love;" "You suffer from selfish narcissism;" "You're a crazy anarchist;" etc.  Some might attempt to systematically tear it all apart.  Some might provide deeper insights into and improvements to, particular aspects.  Others may raise important issues I haven't even considered.  Whatever the response, I will learn from it.  Besides myself, some of these people may be interested:   

(a) Those who have something important to share with, or communicate to, others;
(b) Those who can clearly see the potential benefits from participating in the network;
(c) Those who have already recognized the need to synthesize the most useful knowledge from a wide range of sources and are motivated to do so;
(d) Those who have become disillusioned with any particular system of belief, and are looking for something else;
(e) People who are interested in discovering what belief system they operate out of, and are keen to escape from it;
(f) Those who want to be more effective in life, and don't think that they have already found all the answers;
(g) Those who do not feel particularly threatened by questioning the contents of their rains;
(h) Those who have a special interest in improving their knowledge in some particular area covered by meta-information.

Don't listen to this capitalist, Bolshevik, fascist, Trotzkyite, internationalist, sexualist, Jew, foreigner, intellectual, dreamer, Utopian, demagogue, crazy man, individualist, and anarchist.  Don't you have any American, Russian, German, English, Jewish consciousness? - Wilhelm Reich ("Listen, Little Man!")

These people will probably not be interested in participating in this meta-information network:

(a) Those who simply see no need for improving or increasing their knowledge;
(b) Those who have already found better ways of improving their knowledge;
(c) Those who have major disagreements with some aspects of this paper;
(d) Those who have found all the answers;
(e) Those who have found a wise leader who has all the answers.

What we are engaged in creating is the opportunity for people to participate in the transformation of people's lives and of life itself.  This context of transformation is a context of freedom and opportunity, of empowerment and human joy, of contribution and of participation, participation in this transformation is, for me, the fullest expression of being. - Werner Erhard

It must be stressed that agreement with the notions expressed in this paper is not necessary for participation in the network.  This paper constitutes "open research;" nothing is final; people who agree completely with one another do not learn much from each other.  It is through the exchange of different viewpoints that mutual stimulation, catalyzation, and pollination occurs.  Furthermore, what constitutes meta-information is not only a function of each individual concerned, but is also appropriate to the unique circumstances of each beholder, which change over time.  Your comments and suggestions to improve this paper will be appreciated.  

You have your life in your own hand.  Do not entrust it to anybody else, least of all to the "Fuehrers" you have elected.  Be yourself!  Many great men have told you so.

"Listen to this reactionary petit-bourgeois individualist!  He does not know the inexorable course of history.  "Know thyself," he says.  What bourgeois nonsense!  The revolutionary proletariat of the world, led by its beloved "Fuehrer," the father of all...will free the people!  Down with the individualists and anarchists!" - Wilhelm Reich ("Listen, Little Man!")

The initial strategy I suggest to participants in the meta-information network:

(a) Adopt a willingness to shed your most treasured convictions;
(b) Self-development while avoiding conflict with whoever tries to restrain or retard your personal growth;
(c) Apply meta-information to improve individual knowledge, responsi-bility, health, ability, power, wealth, and freedom;
(d) Establish mutually beneficial relationships with other participants;
(e) Contribute to the advance of other participants and to the world, in general (without self-sacrifice);
(f) Persistently ask yourself, "How can I live free, despite external circumstances which seem to dictate the contrary?";
(g) Live your freedom (read Harry Browne's "How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World").
A note on freedom:  We can divide freedom into negative ("freedom-from") and positive ("freedom-to").  Negative freedom involves the attempts to change or remove the perceived barriers to freedom.  Positive freedom starts with "jumping out" and exclaiming, "I am free!" and going on from there.  Meta-information is strongly oriented towards positive freedom.  (For some profound insights on the distinction between "freedom-to" and "freedom-from," refer to "The Fear of Freedom" (also published as "Escape From Freedom" by Erich Fromm).

In fact, the notions of "meta-information" and "meta-information network" have their origin in my considerable interest in the subject of "freedom."  During the past fifteen years, I have been working a great deal at "increasing my freedom."  In Johannesburg, I was involved in setting up "The Free Market Foundation," an organization to promote economic freedom.  In my "quest for freedom," I have read, talked, traveled, experimented, written, and spoken and learned just how little we really know about "freedom."  If any human has ever known what is really important about "freedom," would he or she not have communicated that knowledge in such a way that other human beings could apply it?

During 1982, I wrote some papers on what I called "ultimate libertarian purism."  "Libertarianism" is, basically, any of the many brands of "individual liberty philosophies;" and "ultimate libertarian purism" (or "ULP") was intended to be the most advanced!  In August, 1982, I presented the ideas of ULP to a hundred libertarians at the first "World Libertarian Convention" in Zurich.  The basis of ULP is the notion that there are certain concepts that, if accepted and used unquestioningly, render one a slave.  The unconscious use of these concepts for thinking and communicating has a hypnotic, stupefying, and debilitating effect.  The ideas of ULP aroused considerable interest and controversy, and a committee was set up to examine my writings on ULP to determine whether they could be developed into something suitable for publication.  The committee has since found that the ULP material can be so developed.  

Henry Jonsson, editor of "Paradigm Newsletter," has written to me:  "I listened with great interest and amusement to your presentation of ULP at the Libertas convention in Zurich.  Would you like to be one of the contributors to "Paradigm Newsletter"?  New and improved systems of thought and analysis are always treated with respect and interest in this newsletter, since what are new and untested ideas today might be the mainstream of philosophy tomorrow..."

John Hayes, one of the members of the committee set up to investigate ULP, commented as follows:

"When Andre sent me the first batch of ULP notes, I was really intrigued with what he was saying because of what had been going on in my own life at the time.  In my dealings with the extortionists who pretended to be agents of the "Federal Government of Canada," I had discovered the reality that they had no power over me except that which, out of habit, I had been conceding to them.  In fact, the regulatory chains that bind individuals (including businessmen) are really conceptual in nature and occur in our minds.

"Once I had made the mental switch and realized that no one—and certainly no supposed "organization" of bureaucrats or thugs—has any authority over my life, I was free.  The instant I cut off the power and authority I had been granting to the bureaucrats, they had none.  And it worked exactly like that in practice.  It was fascinating to watch them squirm and become frustrated as they realized that they had no power to control me.  I had called their bluff simply by pointing out that they could not force me to be a thief by collecting their taxes for them.

Of course, they threatened and blustered and tried to intimidate me mainly by invoking the so-called "laws" which supposedly allowed them to remove my property.  What made it possible for me to face these threats was another mental breakthrough for me—namely, the realization that my existence gave value to my property and not the other way 'round.  So, separating me from material possessions reduced the possessions' value, not mine.  You can see, therefore, that it was easy to counter the threats; what others perceived as requiring great courage was actually quite straightforward.

"I really was amazed when Andre's notes arrived to find that he was putting together a book describing very closely the mental transformations (re-programming?) that I had just gone through.  He has done a good job of culling through existing literature to extract material supporting his central theme:  Breaking free mentally from the conceptual chains of imagined "authority..."

"In one section of Andre's notes, he quotes Robert Heinlein:  'It is impossible to free slaves—they have to free themselves.'  This is so true.  It is also true, I believe, that most people on this planet are slaves without realizing it; for many slaves, freedom is frightening.  This is at the root of the resistance we find to libertarian ideas.  Andre'' book will help to break down the resistance.""

John not only thinks and talks about his freedom; he lives his freedom.  And I think that adopting this principle is a crucial step in human evolution.  There are probably many, many people who, like John, live their freedom, and who don't broadcast that fact.

John's response to ULP was the exception rather than the rule among the libertarians at the Zurich convention.  This was probably due to a combination of my lack of effective communication skills and the fact that many libertarians are still caught in a web of hypnotic, debilitating, and stupefying political concepts and beliefs from which they seem unable to escape, like the proverbial fly in the spider's web...

In Zurich, it became clear to me that I needed to improve my ability to communicate.  I had great difficulty in getting others to grasp the basic notions of ULP.  Later, I also started asking myself questions like:  "What is understanding?"  "How is it possible to understand anything?"  "What is consciousness?"  "Have any human beings ever attained a state of consciousness?"  "Why do most humans seem to have an insatiable hunger to swallow the grossest and most extreme absurdities?"  "Why do some libertarians seem incapable of questioning the concepts of statism?"  and so on.

Do any of us really know anything?

"Wipe your glasses with what you know," said James Joyce.

It seems to me that the willingness to question everything is the strongest catalyst, the most persistent spring, of positive personal power.

Is it not so that greater freedom in the world really depends on the most powerful, being sufficiently free, not to have any desire whatsoever to impose their will on others?

Or is it that greater freedom in the world really depends on the weakest becoming sufficiently strong (and free?), not to have any desire whatsoever to relinquish their power to others?

Which is more important:  "Freedom-from" or "freedom-to"?

It has also become clear to me that "ULP" is a most unsuitable designation for my activity.  It implies "final answers" and "ultimate truth;" the scope of this activity of mine has now widened, and out of it, the questions of meta-information are being born.

The "bottom line" answer to the question, "Why get involved in meta-information?" is:  To increase your advantages in life and to share these advantages with your family, friends, and associates in accordance with (what I will suggest in Section 8 is) your most basic quality, your most fundamental motivation:  Your will-to-power.

What are the practical steps of meta-information?  This is what I envisage:

(a) First, you study the basic notions of meta-information, as I have compiled them in this paper.  You improve them for yourself, as necessary, or you reformulate your own set of notions regarding the purification of knowledge;

(b) Second, you examine the domain of "brain-power" development; do you think you can improve the effectiveness of your mental functioning?  If yes, then you do this either by following some of the pointers given in this paper or by any other method;

(c) Third, you improve your ability to generate capital (to make money) and/or you share the knowledge you already have in this area with other participants of the network (meta-investment); the fact that there are, at the moment, many people not working productively (so-called "unemployment;" see Section 13) also constitutes an opportunity for those who can find enterprising answers to the question, "How do we assist "not-productively-working people to work produc-tively?

(d) Fourth, quality knowledge has to be communicated, so you improve your communication ability (meta-communication);

(e) Fifth, personal effectiveness depends largely on the ability to sell both oneself and one's product—meta-information is a product that needs to be sold, so you increase your selling ability (meta-marketing);

(f) Sixth, psychological health (meta-psychology);

(g) Next, we tackle the domain of education; the mind simply boggles at the extent of the task (meta-education);

(h) Then, we cover other areas, such as:  Life extension, meta-morality, meta-economics, meta-politics, meta-sociology, biotechnology, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and so on.

Meta-information has a very wide scope.  There is an attempt at setting priorities in the above steps.  The idea is that participants in the network will, initially, concentrate on improving their personal abilities or passing on their personal abilities to other participants.  During this process, meta-information can be developed and shared more widely.  The idea is, also, that participants in the meta-information network will become more capable at surviving and prospering in this challenging world of ours.

Timid, ashamed, awkward, like a tiger whose leap has failed:  This is often how I have seen you slink aside, you higher men.  A throw you made had failed.  But what of that, you dice throwers!  You have not learned to play and mock as a man ought to mock and play!  Are we not always seated at a great table for play and mockery?  And if great things you attempted have turned out failures, does that mean you yourselves are failures?

The higher its type, the less often does a thing succeed.  You higher men here, are you not all failures?  Be of good courage—what does it matter?  How much is still possible!  Learn to laugh at yourselves as a man ought to laugh!  And no wonder you have failed and half-succeeded, you half-broken men!  Does there not strive and struggle in you mankind's future?  Mankind's most distant, most profound questions, his reaching to the furthest stars, his prodigious power:  Does all that not foam together in your pot?  No wonder many a pot is shattered!  Learn to laugh at yourselves as a man ought to laugh.  You higher men, oh how much is still possible!  And truly, how much has already succeeded!  How rich this Earth is in good little perfect things, in well-constituted things! - Friedrich Nietzsche ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra")

Most sections of this paper will start with a list of objectives—basically, what I'm trying to achieve in that section.  Then, will follow the "body" of the section.  Most sections will end with a summary of important points ("points to remember") and a list of questions ("clarity check"), which you can use to clarify and express your own views on the issues raised.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:
(a) What we "know" forms, to some extent, the glasses through which we see ourselves and the world.

(b) Ignorance is the only real problem in the world.

(c) Ignorance tends to hide itself.

(d) The probable consequences of hope.

(e) The volume of information has exploded; there is now a need for an evolution in the quality of information.

(f) Meta-information is information of a higher quality—"pearls of wisdom."

(g) What Maslow wrote about "a new way of perceiving."

(h) The meta-information network as a vehicle for bringing about the cross-catalyzation of more valuable information.

(i) A process of synergy...

(j) The importance of vision.

(k) Questions are more important than answers.

(l) This paper constitutes "open research;" nothing is final.

(m) The importance of brain power.

(n) "Meta-" basically means "behind" or "beyond."

(o) The experimental nature of human action.

(p) Obstacles to meta-information:  Deception, violence-blindness, fear, success, arrogance, hope, protest, and rigidity.

(q) The relationships between "hard information," "soft information," belief, and deception.

(r) The "Tao Te Ching" as a superb example of inversion and deception.

(s) The link between violence and poor information.

(t) The significance of violence-breeding and stupefying concepts.

(u) The importance of not getting bogged down in "fixing what is wrong."

(v) Three basic ideas:  meta, context, and quality.

(w) Crisis and opportunity go together.

(x) Why Nietzsche is regarded as "the father of meta-information."

(y) Factors relating to individual responsibility, power, and freedom:  Relinquishing limiting and stupefying concepts, beliefs, and habits; brain-power development; quality knowledge.   

(z) Participation in the network does not depend on agreement with the notions expressed in this paper.

({) The suggested initial strategy for participants of the network.

(|) What constitutes meta-information is unique to the individual.

(}) There are practical steps you can take...

CLARITY CHECK:
(a) Can you "see" that what you "know" might interfere with your "vision"?

(b) What do you think of the notion that ignorance is the only real problem in the world?

(c) Why do you think that ignorance tends to hide itself?

(d) Hope:  What is your view?

(e) What do you think about the possibility of an evolution in the quality of information?

(f) Do you think the idea of a meta-information network is worth considering?  If so, what should its purpose be?

(g) Do you regard vision as important?

(h) What do you think of the contention that questions are more important than answers?

(i) Do you think human brain power can be increased significantly?

(j) Can the results of human action be predicted accurately?

(k) What do you regard as the most fundamental obstacles to higher-quality information?

(l) Do you think the distinction between "hard information" and "soft information" has any merit?  If so, what?

(m) How are belief and deception related to the above?

(n) What do you understand by "inversion"?

(o) Do you see a link between violence and poor information?

(p) Can you think of any concepts you regard as violence-breeding and/or stupefying?

(q) If we don't fix what's wrong, how can we improve the world?

(r) What are the three most basic ideas of meta-information?  If you think otherwise, what should be considered the most basic ideas?

(s) What is your view about the notion of looking for the opportunity in every crisis?

(t) What have you heard or read about Nietzsche?  Have you read any of Nietzsche's own books?  How about Carroll and Swift?

(u) Do you think that "individual responsibility, power, and freedom" is a useful aspiration?  Would you propose alternatives?

(v) Whatever you propose as a worthwhile aspiration, how could it be achieved?

(w) What do you think should be the strategy of individual participants in the meta-information network?

(x) What disagreements do you have, so far, with this introduction?  If any, do they constitute a barrier to your participation?

(y) Are you willing to provide me with feedback in order to improve this activity?

(z) What practical steps do you intend to take in respect of meta-information, if any?

I have noticed in some people (including myself) a tendency, when reading a controversial book, to form an opinion about the book or author early on and, thereafter, a tendency to "read" the opinion rather than the rest of the book, a tendency to misread and distort the remainder of the book in order to make it "fit" the early, possibly premature, opinion...

Having read the introduction and maybe glanced at other parts, what is your general opinion at this stage?  Are you willing to modify or refine this opinion as you continue?


"AS" Publications, P. O. Box 149, B-1930 Zaventem 1, Belgium

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