Too Much Information

Written By:
Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner
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6:30 a.m.: Your day starts when your trusty radio alarm clock jars you out of Dreamland by blaring a traffic report about a pileup on the freeway.
 
6:40 a.m.: Half bleary-eyed, you brush your teeth while scrolling through the e-mails that came into your Gmail account between 11:00 p.m. and now. You stop to read the news headlines auto-emailed to you from your favorite newspaper.
 
7:00 a.m.: As you dress for the day, you pop on the TV to listen to the morning news.
 
7:30 a.m.: You gobble down a bowl of cereal while you zip through your Twitter feed and click on a few links to some interesting articles and video clips. 
 
8:00 a.m.: During your morning commute, you pop on the radio to listen to your favorite talk radio host’s take on current events. 
 
8:45 a.m.: You read a news story shared on Facebook while waiting for your cup of joe at the local coffee shop.
 
9:01 a.m.: With an already busy-brain, you start the workday by checking your e-mail.
 
Does your morning sound anything like this? Yep, I thought so. We’re living in the Information Age, and it shows. Many of our waking hours are spent getting inundated with info, some of it good, some of it bad and far too much of it indiscriminately slapped together and served up carelessly to the trusting masses.
 
Power of the Academic Press
Given the flood of information that deluges us daily, it’s too bad we can’t close the floodgates when the muck comes to the surface. It would have been helpful, for instance, to shut out the recent news reports covering a sketchy study that links fish oil with prostate cancer. You can read about the study in this month’s 
NewsLinks section, and it is easily debunked in our Vitamin Connection column.
 
What I just can’t figure out is how studies—especially those that make colossal leaps of “logic”—can get so much pick-up in mass media without science writers asking whether the conclusions make sense. Rather, it’s as if news outlets believe the printing of data in certain journals solidly affirms it as truth. Thriving on a fast news cycle and catchy headlines, there’s no questioning of results or background investigation.
 
The consequence? Incomplete and inaccurate information bombards shoppers, who then make misinformed decisions about their health. I cringe at the thought of people being so scared of fish oil causing cancer that they cut it out of their diets completely.
 
But don’t underestimate another valuable player in the Information Age: the independent retailer. He/she is not just a gatekeeper for allowing only quality products on  their shelves, but also for disseminating trustworthy and fair information about health.
 
Plus, while it may seem like one small voice trying to shout over a marching band, retailers have the unique advantage of a personal touch. They can explain and clarify information with a subtlety that shoppers cannot get from newsfeeds. This voice can be such a contrast in the digital age that it speaks louder than any flashy headline. WF
 
Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner
Editor/Associate Publisher
 
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2013