Monday, August 22, 2005

Ignorant

.

that's me.

And you.

And everyone else on this planet.

"I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." - Isaac Newton
This is the reality. We have not come so very far from Sir Isaac. We now have a hand full of pebbles, but no understanding of the larger rocks, much less the boulders and beyond a full sea of knowledge.

Our educations have made us into fools. The specialization in narrow subjects made us believe we have knowledge. Our professors acted like the "facts" they presented were proven completely. They lied.

As we advance in our specializations we discover the hidden holes in our subject's knowledge, yet we somehow assume them away and in faith believe the other disciplines lack these holes.

We know much less than what we need to know. The very basics elude us.

If you want proof, ask why there are scientists on every side of almost every fact. Global cooling was the fear as I was growing up. "Facts" proved the earth could not sustain its population to Thomas Malthus in the 18th century; today you can find Scientists that will argue a dozen different positions on the population bomb, all from the same facts. Evolution has dozens of supporting camps, they argue as much with themselves as with creationists, all from the same facts (I have a half boiled other idea myself). Oil is either in a short term constriction or is running out, or a dozen other ideas created from the same facts. Contesting fact interpretations abound on all subjects, to the point Max Planck said:

"An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out."
An important scientific innovation... not convincing by facts, but by survival. If the new innovation is an error, it may take generations to come back to the original knowledge and start over. Knowledge can be gained, lost, recovered, ignored, lost again, and discovered again.

Pythagoras had a number sequence, it was rediscovered by Fibonacci, and Fibonacci was discovered late in the 21st century by financial types. It is now called a Fibonacci sequence by traders, but who knows how many times it has been discovered and by whom?

A major point is that just because a fact or some knowledge exists does not prove it is without error. It is not what we don't know that is dangerous, it is what we know and are wrong that can really hurt us.

If you are still a student, get broad knowledge. The greater your view, the sooner you will acquire the wisdom of known ignorance. Then you can start to learn.

You may need to become a student again, if so, do it for yourself this time.

Until then you need to understand.

We only pretend to know.

Allan
.

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