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Jorge de Sena, a portuguese author and long term expat in the USA, in his 1960s book America, America

about his personal experience of American living, generalizes that the countrys historians tend to look at knowledge in a highly focused manner, compartmentalizing it and sometimes overlooking its context. He argues, as an example, that America might have the worlds greatest specialist in an obscure Italian Renaissance painter, but he would focus on this topic so much that he might not pay attention to the greater historical context. A modern form of this context-ignoring focus could be the conspiracy theorists: inspired by the quest for their truth, which seems pure and crystal clear, they feed on an enormous amount of information, easily available on the Internet and written by people that range from naif to aspiring mass manipulators. In science, weve come to a point where the opacity, the sheer complexity of some of the scientific information available means that its almost always easier to look for shortcuts, finding patterns of questionable rationality and serve that information in a structured and rewarding form. Finding meaning in complexity has never been an easy task. In politics, the self-serving lack of transparency doesnt help in attracting trustworthiness. Another good example of this light behaviour towards knowledge can be found in the survivalist movement, commonly referred as preppers; its nothing new, being a cross between two extremes: a visceral reaction to progress and the idea of the end of civilization. Both can be traced back, the former to naturalist movements and other philosophical approaches that professed a frugal life, in harmony with nature, and the latter to the apocalypse, a concept that spans and suits every major religion. Whats new is the increasing trend to provide an acritical channel to each and every extreme of society, sometimes disguised as a balanced or even journalistic view. This is clear when watching the documentaries about americans who spend most of their free time preparing for the end of the world, in the form of a nuclear attack, biological terrorism, financial collapse or even more exotic endings. Theres always the same repeating structure: the main subject, proudly showing his preparation, floats between vague alienation and the aforementioned context-ignoring specialist. He shows an impressive array of specialized knowledge, from building bunkers to complex escape procedures that would suit a professional army; people around him, usually close relatives, are sometimes cautious but nevertheless dont seem to exert any kind of influence on the subjects behaviour, a paradox, as they are sometimes the objects of protection. Although not always: one 15 year-old wouldnt take his mom in the event of a needed escape because it would be dead weight, too much to worry about. This is a boy who builds makeshift weapons, like baseball bats with spikes and special purpose knives. In the end theres always the anonymous group of specialists that grade the subject in each of the items they think is important, again completely disregarding context or consequence: a flamethrower pointing to the front door of a shelter, triggered from the inside, is considered a good idea, and given a high grade.