Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel told Butler University’s Class of 2012 that its responsibility is to “shape the world going forward and make it a little better.”
Stengel told the 880 graduates from 35 states and 19 countries that he’s optimistic about the future, thanks to the Internet, which is a “great equalizer” and can “democratize our world if we use it properly,” and social media, which allows us to “see history unfolding as it’s happening.”
But in his May 12 commencement address in Hinkle Fieldhouse, Stengel challenged the graduates to understand and appreciate that in the information revolution, where much is given, much is expected.
“And what do I expect?” he asked. “I expect you to know something. And I expect if you don’t know it, you’ll know how to find it. That’s part of what a college education is for, and that skill is a skill you’ll need for the rest of your life.”
Stengel said the graduates need to be able to discern between good information and what he called “pseudo-facts.” That is, information gathered and disseminated by reliable sources as opposed to some random person’s tweets.
“Education is for being able to make a distinction between pseudo-facts and real facts, information and knowledge,” he said.
And Butler’s graduates, he said, must understand that difference between information and knowledge. Information is basic data, he said – knowing that in 1862, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. Knowledge is knowing why he did it – to save the Union.
“Information is data; knowledge is understanding,” Stengel said. “Information is statistics; knowledge is insight. Information is foreground; knowledge is background.”
The faculty address was delivered by Mike Roscoe ’94, MS ’99, chair of the Department of Health Sciences, assistant dean of interprofessional education and program director for the Physician Assistant Program in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Roscoe cited Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” as a guidepost for the graduates, telling them that “life’s journey does not flow as expected” and that they shouldn’t fear failure.
“You will meet the challenges,” he said, “and know that you can do it.”