Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Shut Up And Listen

In three separate and quite different conversations this morning the gist of the issue was that knowing more is an asset.

I want to know more. I always want to know more. I demand more information.

It's not just curiosity, although that's a good thing. It's a survival method. It's a drive that has, obviously, led us to explore and experiment, and...discover. That's the big picture. Some humans are more keen to learn than others, it seems.

Are you? Do you seek new information? Do you wake up every day with the desire to know more?

Life gets busy. I'm constantly being told that "No, Melanie. I DON'T have time to read that/watch that/listen to that." And I get it. You work hard, and when you add family needs on top of that there's just not enough time left in the day to study something. Even when you waste time, you have a reason for it, you find it relaxing and you need that. I get it.

But do you seek more information when you do have time, opportunity, and cause? And do you encourage others to do the same?

Or do you say "I'm good. I don't need to know that. It doesn't really affect me, and there's nothing I could do about it if I did."

What if I told you that knowledge is power? That the only thing stopping us from having a much better society, fixing all the world's problems, and probably saving our species from premature extinction is for each one of us to be more curious, to seek more truths, to learn, learn, learn.

I think it's fairly clear by now that our IQ has evolved faster than our EQ. We spend a lot of time making decisions based on what we can do rather than what we should do. We need more wisdom, in effect. But we can catch up. Any human can, within one lifetime, make the effort to become good at decision making. It's a choice. Unless there is some actual neurological impairment, all of us can develop our executive skills. In other words we can learn to be wiser.

It can go either way. If you choose not to know. If you don't bother to learn. If you stick with what you already know. You have made a choice. And as a result you will make stupid choices. Because you don't have the information you need to make wise ones.

If you choose to know. If you bother to learn. If you increase your knowledge. You are making a choice. And as a result you will make wise choices.

It is a fallacy that wisdom is innate, or that it just happens. It comes from paying attention, watching out for cause and effect and then predicting that, and asking questions.

Because although I maintain that ignorant and stupid are different, the one leads to the other. Likewise knowledge leads to wisdom. And it's all optional. So there's no excuse.

"What's it to you?" "Mind your own business Melanie."


I care deeply about this, because wiser people are better people. They are kinder, more useful, less harmful. Our planet needs more wise people. The stupid ones are not only not part of the solution, they are part of the problem, and...they opted for this.

All that said, chances are, if you are reading this, then you are not stupid. I tend not to have stupid friends.

What I'm really doing is urging you to push others, especially the young, towards a desire to understand. A keenness to learn. I am asking you to take every opportunity you get to share the knowledge you have, and to encourage everyone around you by leading by example in having wisdom as a goal.

Of course you will be frustrated by those who don't want to learn. Who are content with ignorance. Who actually rely on it.

But you don't have to be that way, and you don't have to tolerate it.

If a person doesn't know any better, if they are young, or oppressed, if they have never had the flaws in their thinking processes pointed out to them, they don't know how important it is to learn more. Be the person who tells them.

It is often said that ignorance is self-replicating, because the ignorant don't even know they are ignorant.

So tell them.

Yes, I KNOW you can't educate pork. (By the way, I think I know where that comes from, I think it's related to Robert Heinlein's famous "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.") But you score points for trying.

I remember being young. I remember being told by elders and betters "No, you're wrong, and it's because you don't understand." And I remember how horrible it felt to be told that. But it upset me enough to do something about it. And as time went on I welcomed those criticisms, and when they happen now I am ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED. Because one of the things I learned, while being told I damn well needed to, was that the end result feels good. Feeling ignorant isn't fun.

Being ignorant is part of being "new". Choosing to remain ignorant is one (my) definition of stupid. Help the stupid. Pester them. Explain things. Annoy them. Consider it a public service.


  1. I, for one, am grateful for your prodding, my friend! :-) ~ Blessings!

  2. The trouble is that knowledge is transferable and therefore cumulative, while wisdom has to be painstakingly acquired one pathetic life at the time. It is rather scary. Humanity can do more damage with fancier tools.