KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AND COGNITIVE MANIPULATION
Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Unlike immediate experience, most of information acquired from texts is inferred from and generated by previous knowledge representations and not by facts themselves.
In ordinary language and in scientific discourse, knowledge and information, as well as knowledge and information representations, are metaphorically talked about in spatial terms. The term ‘knowledge transfer’ itself is an instance of this ordinary language presupposing non-literal use of terms when talking about things not immediately known.
‘Spread of knowledge’ and ‘dissemination of false information’ in mass-media are further realizations of this figure of speech having much in common with biological and chemical ground contamination as well as with epidemy. Such classes of malignant knowledge transfer are particularly interesting for cognitive sciences. The task of cognitive linguistics may consist in discovering how cognitive infection arises out of ‘fake news’, what cognitive mechanisms of information dissemination are based on and how it may be cured, prevented and/or neutralized. This investigation involves what may be called ‘cognitive hygiene’. It presupposes empirical contrastive study of cognitive technologies and practices of verbal manipulation traditionally used by different national cultures. Most of verbal techniques base upon linguistic properties of utterances, especially referential ambiguity of sentences. Several classes of such linguistic techniques of cognitive infecting and disinfecting are demonstrated in this paper. Techniques of neutralizing their effect are here proposed which may be effective in lowering or neutralizing pernicious informational impact on readers of news in mass-media. The following super-maxim of conservative reading may be put forward: The current text interpretation is only an interim product, contradictions between an individual’s ‘knowledge base’ and a text which do not always suggest discarding old knowledge in favor of new one.
Comparing titles and main texts of news in mass-media yields especially interesting results for the theory of interpretation. Titles often present information to be perceived and acquired uncritically, they are usually gates for infective information slipping into readers’ minds. Even when the main text following these titles openly refutes the information contained in such titles, an inadvertent reader may already have acquired the informational poison and passes by what follows in the main text without noticing this discrepancy.
Especially effective are on-line interpretive tactics, when readers follow cognitive-hygienic prescriptions in the process of primary interpretation itself. It is easier to detect and to remove traces left by harmful infection during or soon after cognitive attacks than afterwards.
cognitive sciences, knowledge transfer, cognitive infection, cognitive hygiene, verbal manipulation.
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The research is financially supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 14-28-00130 “Linguistic Technologies in interaction of humanities” at Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Demyankov, V. Z. (2017). Knowledge transfer and cognitive manipulation. Voprosy Kognitivnoy Lingvistiki, 4, 5-13.