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Base election decisions on knowledge, not merely information

How do we respond to all the information we are bombarded with every day from a myriad of sources? As my broker recently informed me, by the end of 2014, it is estimated that there will be one trillion connected objects and devices on our planet. These devices generate more than 2.5 billion gigabytes of data every day — information about almost everything under the sun, the vast majority of which may be irrelevant, conflicting or biased, and dare we say useless and perhaps untrue.

We need to remember what Albert Einstein, the German-born American physicist, said on the subject: "Information is not knowledge." And John Naisbitt, American author of "Megatrends" and analyst of global trends, said that "We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge." Knowledge comes from sorting through information to make sure the facts are correct; knowledge requires thought and perspective; knowledge comes from applying the information to specific situations.

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As we approach Election Day 2014, we are constantly bombarded with sound bites and information about which candidate to vote for and why. But those sound bites are just that — information which may be irrelevant, conflicting or biased, even useless or untrue — without giving us knowledge to make sound decisions. What have we done to sort through all the information about candidates and issues to come to the knowledge of how each candidate will perform in specific situations?

I dare say that many are stuck in the old ways of examining information that is mostly surface sound bites. Is the candidate a Democrat or Republican, a conservative or a liberal? Things are almost never black or white (no pun intended for the governor's race), Democrat or Republican, left or right. The complexity of issues in the 21st century, along with the fact that these pieces of information do not give us knowledge of the handling of the issues, means that we must look beyond sound bites of information.

Let us not vote just for a party. Let us vote for the people with the best credentials and the greatest integrity. Let us vote for those who will tackle the issues that face our nation, our state and our county with wisdom and knowledge to solve problems.

Appallingly, only 37.8 percent of the U.S. voting-age population voted in the 2010 mid-term elections, according to the Federal Election Commission. Let us hope to turn that abysmal number around in 2014. If you didn't already vote early, I trust that you have analyzed the information, separated fact from fiction and are armed with knowledge to vote wisely on Tuesday, Nov. 4. See you at the polls!

Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster.

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