Wisdom has been on my mind lately. But before I get started on this topic I need to distinguish between two types of perceived wisdom, gut wisdom and learned wisdom.
Gut Wisdom — Gut wisdom is that feeling you get when you think you instinctively know something. It’s what your gut tells you is the truth. I know the current Oval Office occupant says he is REALLY SMART but I think his self-conceived wisdom is just his biases toward the issue at hand. He may be gut wise but he is definitely not learned wise.
I have to include my wife in the gut wise category. She says statistics are fake because she doesn’t understand them. What her gut tells her is much more reliable than what others who might be more studied on the topic think about the topic at hand. I am an engineer by schooling and took several courses in various fields. One of those was thermal dynamics. I try to impart some of that wisdom to her but she will have nothing to do with that. I tell her if you want cool night air in one part of the house the best way to do that is to open a window there and then blow air out the other side of the house. But she will not accept that as her gut wisdom tells her that is not true.
Let’s be truthful about this, gut wisdom is usually just a set of prejudices we learn over time. Gut wisdom is easy to obtain and difficult to expel.
Learned Wisdom — Learned wisdom is among other things about the scientific method. It is about searching for truth. It is learning from the wisdom of others and maybe just adding a little to it before applying it or passing it on. Learned wisdom is something that takes time and often due diligence to obtain. It’s hard work. Sometimes it takes years of study to really be wise on a topic. Other times a few days will enable us to just make an informed choice. But it is always about admitting you don’t know something and then doing what is necessary to find the answers.
I like to think of myself as learned wise. If I want to speak up about a topic I study it to see what others have to teach me and then given that information and my personal experiences I try to fabricate my view on the topic. I admit that I don’t know what I don’t know. I look for people wherever I can find them that know more than I do. I value their wisdom.
One of the basic problems today is the people, especially those who are gut wise, who refuse to acknowledge that others know more than they do. When learned wisdom is not valued we as a society quit moving forward. And, that is a sad and dangerous thing…