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Fear of Knowledge


Thales
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I know this is more of a sociological question, but has fear of knowledge or of the knowledgable been a constant in the world or is it getting worse?

 

As we collectively accumulate more and more knowledge it becomes increasingly apparent that in order to 'survive' and prosper in the economically geared western world, one needs to specialise, to a level that to me, seems illogical and unnatural. The good old days of being a 'Jack of all trades' seems to hold little value in todays world and people who are knowledgable in more than one field are often greeted with skepticism rather than heralded as an asset. Is this seemingly increasing trend going to impact on our ability to remain adaptive, rational creatures or will the resulting segregation of society, into ever more specialised areas, breed more mistrust and misunderstanding?

 

I, personally, am an advocate of the idea that one should never stop learning and that the mind is a powerful tool to be utilised to its full potential for the greater good. Resting upon ones laurels does little to progress the wealth of human understanding and while I realise not everybody shares my passion, the standard model in my immediate surrounds is to; pick a career, specialise and don't go back. Am I alone in my fear of education being not only undervalued but also underestimated as the cause that should drive us forward into tomorrow, or does that frustration reside in all of us but a lack of public voicing of the idea, hold us back?

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One of the reasons I participate in these boards is that I like to learn and to discuss what I have learned.

 

I have a large group of friends and acquaintances. Most of them work at some job or other and are quite knowledgable about what they do. They have no interest in learning about anything thing else. When you talk to them about any kind of new scientific discovery, their eyes glaze over.

 

The problem I have with this attitude is that there are a lot of times that having a good basic knowledge of science is very important.

 

Political issues such as stem cell research, or spending more money on space research, are at the tip of the iceberg.

 

The biggest problem of all, is that most of these people have not been taught to think. They don't understand anything about logic, and they tend to believe everything they read, whether it is logical or not.

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There is a quote from a book from the ‘50’s called “The Mouse that Roared.” That comes to mind. It goes something like this, “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword holds sway at any given moment in time.”

 

People are impressed by loud, violent, brutal things. Explosions in movies, car chases, rap music, the World Wrestling Federation, and so on. Part of the appeal of the rise of the fascists in the 1930s’ was that fascist leaders were ‘men of action.” In the United States today, an obviously stupid President, prone to the use of violence is leading in the polls against an opponent who speaks in complex, compound sentences.

 

In the short term violence prevails, but intelligence is subversive, turning violence against itself and prevailing by default. Violence is finite. Intelligence is infinite.

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Does anyone suppose there is an obvious/practical solution to the problem though. Perhaps TV could play a role in trying to inform and educate the masses in broader more interesting terms. I guess thats the life of an academic though, frustrated by the overwhelming apathy towards knowledge yet satisfied and all to aware thats what seperates us from the crowd.

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There is a quote from a book from the ‘50’s called “The Mouse that Roared.” That comes to mind. It goes something like this' date=' “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword holds sway at any given moment in time.”

 

People are impressed by loud, violent, brutal things. Explosions in movies, car chases, rap music, the World Wrestling Federation, and so on. Part of the appeal of the rise of the fascists in the 1930s’ was that fascist leaders were ‘men of action.” In the United States today, an obviously stupid President, prone to the use of violence is leading in the polls against an opponent who speaks in complex, compound sentences.

 

In the short term violence prevails, but intelligence is subversive, turning violence against itself and prevailing by default. Violence is finite. Intelligence is infinite.[/quote']Great post, by the way... :cool: Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  • 1 month later...

In the short term violence prevails' date=' but intelligence is subversive, turning violence against itself and prevailing by default. Violence is finite. Intelligence is infinite.[/quote']

 

Nice sentiments, but looking at natural history intelligence has only evolved once. Violent killing machines have independently evolved time and time again in all manner of environments and ecological niches.

 

It would be nice to believe that intelligence will always prevail, but it looks like wishful thinking.

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  • 3 months later...

Personally I think fear breeds fear, ignorance the same. There will always be those who have a closed mind and only a closed mind. I love knowledge and I love to learn what others think about what I am interested in, Science,philosophy and all the sub-disciplines. Paul/pljames (Respect is a two way street,not a one way alley). Paul

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The biggest problem of all, is that most of these people have not been taught to think. They don't understand anything about logic, and they tend to believe everything they read, whether it is logical or not.

 

This explains why a lot of people believe in psychic readers, astrology and that sort of stuff. My mother is a perfect example. She believes all the stuff unquestioningly and suffice to say she isn't much of a critical thinker. To her, if someone says a claim is true, no matter how illogical it is, she believes it. Critical thinking is a good skill to have, and in my opinion, should be part of the public education curriculum.

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Personally I think fear breeds fear' date=' ignorance the same. There will always be those who have a closed mind and only a closed mind. I love knowledge and I love to learn what others think about what I am interested in, Science,philosophy and all the sub-disciplines. Paul/pljames (Respect is a two way street,not a one way alley). Paul[/quote']

 

I couldn't agree more. :)

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It reminds me of I book I'm reading. "Dancing naked in the Mind Field" by Kary Banks Mullis. He accuses scientisits for doing this, and refuses to accept common knowledge at face value. In his book he demonstrates why HIV is not proven to casue AIDS. Suprized? I was too when I read it...but now I can see the scientific world differently. Everyone should read that book.

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One of the reasons I participate in these boards is that I like to learn and to discuss what I have learned.

 

I have a large group of friends and acquaintances. Most of them work at some job or other and are quite knowledgable about what they do. They have no interest in learning about anything thing else. When you talk to them about any kind of new scientific discovery' date=' their eyes glaze over.

 

The problem I have with this attitude is that there are a lot of times that having a good basic knowledge of science is very important.

 

Political issues such as stem cell research, or spending more money on space research, are at the tip of the iceberg.

 

The biggest problem of all, is that most of these people have not been taught to think. They don't understand anything about logic, and they tend to believe everything they read, whether it is logical or not.[/quote']

 

 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

KAC

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Another thing is knowledgable people are seen as nerds, and dissmissed very quickly as uncool treckies.

 

knowledge also pokes holes into what people currently believe and accept as true. For instance, if someone insists that astrology is true, and proceeds to rattle off subjective, anecdotal evidence about why that is, few people will be able to presuade them that it is in fact useless, illogical and completely stupid. This is becasue people don't want to hear evidence contrary to what they believe and put a lot of faith into. It upsets them, and I can understand why. No one wants to hear that "men evolved from an ape lineage, when they have grown up believing something far to the contrary, it scares them.

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  • 1 month later...

Do you think politicians who steal our tax money for education want to produce people who think? They might figure out how dumb politicians are. :eek:

 

I think a lot of the specialization is artificailly created with the help of the schools. I've been in computers since 1978. Information that is important but easy to understand is difficult to find and tons of complicated trivia is all over the place. Use Google to do a search on "computers are von Neumann machines" then search on "how computers work". 60,000+ on "how computers work" but the 4th edition of the OXFORD DICTIONARY OF COMPUTERS says almost all computers are von Neumann machines. That assumes you already know enough to look up the definition of von Neumann machine.

 

The best explanation I have seen in 20+ years is in chapter 10 on THE ART OF ELECTRONICS, but that book doesn't contain the term von Neumann machine. I have never seen it in an electronics book. It is the property of COMPUTER SCIENCE. :D

 

psikeyhackr

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  • 2 weeks later...

I find this subject very interesting. I really hate the way there is a social stigma attached to talking about anything scientific or technical. I find it paradoxical that for example a good knowledge of football is more important to most people than even a simple understanding of maths and science.

Even though science has brought these people everything that they need to indulge their ''hobbies'' it is still looked down upon as something that nerds and social misfits do, i really am astounded at peoples ignorance sometimes.

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Thank you all for your answers. I love to learn. I have learned that knowledge is like a puzzle a dristributed parts puzzle. Everything is specialized. I have fifity years of knowledge about special parts of my life. to me not to share knowledge is a waste your mind. Thank you. pljames@brmemc.net :)

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I have learned there is no general term for knowledge. It is a speciality in our time. You have to select your expertise and go with it. pljames

 

 

"Knowledge is a terrible thing to waste", The Negro Colle Fund.

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I love knowledge today, but what good is it if you do not share it?

I have learned there is no general term for knowledge, like philosophy ten philosophers say different ideas on what the general word means, then they goto the subdisiplines. Its like the word, theres the original word then the synonyms, which do you pick for the general word? It is a distributed speciality in our time. You have to select your expertise and go with it. What do you think? pljames :)

 

 

"Knowledge is a terrible thing to waste", The Negro College Fund.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

"Knowledge is a terrible thing to waste"' date=' The Negro College Fund.[/quote']

 

Yet "ignorance is bliss" seems to dominate most people these days...

Seriously, I think that most people want to remain ingorant so that no one will expect more from them than what they are willing to do (aka lazyness). Most people I know are not willing to exhert themselves any omre than necessary, and are quite content with their status quo---a crappy, dead-end job, "disability", or some other type of government assistance (welfare). I am Bipolar 2, and so far, treatment-resistant. I have been on disability for it, and it was needed, however, it is no way to live. I have always been curious, and am currently looking into colleges to finish my degree in accounting. Had I been an ignorant and/or lazy person, I would just sit on my butt all day and collect a check, but my mind is far too active to do it! ;) Some people just lack that curiousness that has always been an integral part of my (and probably everyone else's here) personality, and it probably can't be helped. A dull knife can't cut much.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Thales,

Excellent article/thread. I was ignorant for years, then I got the desire to learn, fell head over heels in love with knowledge/to know. But is it normal to become addicted,zealous and fanatic about, to know? I am only interested in information that I am interested in at that particular time. I call it personal learning. You are also right about specialized training. It is todays method. My day was "jack of all trades".

 

Am I alone in my fear of education being not only undervalued but also underestimated as the cause that should drive us forward into tomorrow, or does that frustration reside in all of us but a lack of public voicing of the idea, hold us back?

 

Fear breeds fear. There is no learning in fear for the sake of fear. That is its own profit. Public voicing is the alternative to fear! pljames

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Am I alone in my fear of education being not only undervalued but also underestimated as the cause that should drive us forward into tomorrow, or does that frustration reside in all of us but a lack of public voicing of the idea, hold us back?

 

Thales, I've spent many a night agonising over the same stuff.

It's tragic.

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