Monday, November 27, 2006

The Security Of The Insecure

Constantly, we, or at least I, deal with those who are sure of something, usually of themselves generally. Of course, this lets them get through each problematic day with an assurance that the world, indeed the cosmos, is as they know it to be. That there are millions of published papers dealing with new insights into matters of science and of ourselves as individuals and groups, concerns them not. They know, and that is that!

The crux, or crutch, of all this is that if they recognized that nobody knows very much -- in light of all these published papers -- then the proper position would be "tell me more". Only those who are secure in the sometimes hard-won awareness of their partial-knowledge / partial-ignorance condition, can relax in the security that they do not know, and therefore can learn.

To me, the question is: Why can't we be content with our very obvious inadequacies? We accept that foxes, cows, ants, elephants, and so on, cannot know everything, so why not accept that neither can we?

The risk, no, the fate of someone who "knows" all is disaster when it inevitably turns out that he/she does not. I could rest my case, and I think I will.

30 Comments:

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Kiki said...

Oh, I had no idea cows were being abducted. That is so odd. I hope the aliens are not hurting the cows.

K

 
At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

But there also comes a point when ignorance will prevent people from even seeking this knowledge in the fist place. People would not be able to even fathom the forest, for all they ever knew were the trees in front of them.

Although the pursuit of absolute knowledge is foolhardy, the intelligent thinker will know how humbled he is compared to the slow and powerful rythmns on which the universe runs.

Point being: stay in school, don't be a total fool ;)

 
At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Ook said...

Wisdom = comprehending one's own ignorance.

 
At 3:49 AM, Blogger kinziephoto said...

I'm often overwhelmed by how much I "think" I don't know - because really - how do I know what's even out there... :) boggles my mind

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Markus said...

I just read you were the oldest blogger of the world, sir! I wanted to congratulate for that :)

And now I will read the rest of your blog. Have a nice day!

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger q said...

Dear Sir,
There are indeed millions of published papers on scientific matters inidicating supposed phenomenae of which have not previously known. And it is certainly true that most people are not concerned by it.
But they should be concerned, as too many of these papers are plagiarism, sloppy science, and sometimes outright flim-flam. When allowed to germinate, such ideas will pass for truth over time and accepted as "common sense" and in the worst cases they become law of the land.
Most people are not equipped to tell the difference and are at somewhat of a disadvantage. They face the decision of whether they want to know the reality or just be satisfied with the dream.
Many will take the latter, as the former is a lot of hard work in educating ones self.
Thank you for this site. You seem a down-to-Earth sensible person.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"All that I have seen teacehs me to believe in all that I have not seen."

St. Exupery

 
At 3:13 AM, Blogger Adrian said...

Well, first of all Congratulations on your blog, I found my self here thank´s to a good reference about it.

It is always good to listen to what others have to say, and even better if they have experienced much of it.

I have had the pleasure to have great conversations with famous authors, brilliant scientists and savvy politicians, and I can tell you that they all share something in common, while they do know more than 90% of the population out there, they do not presume to know it all or to have an answer for everything, although sometime they do take an educated guest at some of them.

I myself have told my students thousand times "I don´t know" and I usually look into it as soon as i can, nonetheless I have seen other teachers try to answer every single question thrown at them. It does seem to me like insecurity, but I also think that they don´t see other options, mainly because we tend to think less of those who don´t know.

Of course that´s just my humble opinion, and like Asimov said:
“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” =)

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate post-modernism.

I recognize that human knowledge is inherently limited, but I detest a philosophy that venerates ignorance (strangeness etc.) I suspect that many adherent of PoMo are innumerate.

The number Pi explains the strengths and weaknesses of knowledge very well.

The ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle is ALWAYS approximately 3.14

We know this ALWAYS to be true. Anybody who disputes this is ignorant. People who believe that all knowledge is inherently subjective deny Pi.

On the other hand, Pi is a transcendental; it goes on for infinity. As human beings we will never know the last digit.

But we have worked out pi 1.2 trillion digits. And we know, thanks to Euler, that e^i*pi = -1 (thanks Euler).

Truth and Objectivity: you'd better believe it.

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Decio Biavati said...

I like this post. I translated it in Italian for my blog. Thank you.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I think that I know a lot, but when I'm questioned by the police I always say "Sorry, I know nothing!" and the fools believe me!

 
At 9:19 PM, Blogger mandora said...

I just wrote a similar post about the 'know-it-all-ness' of academics. Why is it that when you have some letters behind your name, you suddenly become God?

 
At 2:38 AM, Anonymous beefhaze said...

Mr Crowdis,

I want to thank you for your blog. I have read and enjoyed every post thus far, and eagerly look for a new post every day.

I am an unapologetic fan of your work and of your unique perspective.

Again, thank you.

-Forest
(aka beefhaze)

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger mac said...

The certainty of today is the uncertainty of tomorrow.

 
At 7:21 PM, Blogger MyMaracas said...

Ah, the wisdom of a having "beginner's mind". Excellent post.

 
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