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Saturday, November 1, 2014

What I Don't Know

The things that I don't know would easily fill a library of books, several libraries perhaps. I could probably fill another book with things that I think I know but I'm not sure about. One thing I do know for sure is that I don't know much. It's all relative of course. I know a lot more than a baby but that is only by default. Most knowledge is automatically acquired as a result of life. The longer you live, the more you know. Therefore saying that I know more than a baby is meaningless.

If I compared myself with my contemporaries, I can at best say that I know more about some things than other people do. I'm a teacher and a writer so naturally I know more about teaching and writing than someone who doesn't teach, or has never taught, or someone who doesn't write, or even read very much. I have a friend who seems knowledgeable about most subjects. If you start talking about something, he knows stuff and is happy to talk at length about what he knows. He's not bluffing either. He actually has an amazing ability to retain and recall facts. I admire him for it.  I would happily concede that he knows more than me. 

I don't have a problem with people knowing more than I do. I recognize my limits. I often confess to my students that I do not know everything. I cannot answer all of their questions.

I read an article this morning which got me thinking about people who pretend they know stuff. People who bluff their way through conversations on topics about which they are ignorant. People who can't admit that they don't know. And then there are people who have opinions on everything but nothing, no knowledge upon which to base their opinions.

Why does conversation have to be some competitive? Why do some people seem not to understand the concept of turn taking? Where is humility and openness? Why do people to protect themselves from a loss of face by lying? Why are some people so certain about things which they cannot possibly be certain about? How can the racist hate all Chinese people when he's never meet one? How can the atheist say there is no God? What is wrong with saying, "I don't know." 

My answer to that question is, "I don't know." What's yours?
We Are Confident Idiots

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