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Is Knowledge a Curse?

"In an article titled “The Curse of Knowledge”, it’s noted that as a person learns more about a subject, it becomes increasingly more difficult to discuss that subject with someone who doesn’t posses that knowledge. It simply becomes harder and harder to empathise with them.

This means that the more educated and passionate you are about a subject, the harder you will find it to discuss or teach it to others.

This effect is one of the cited possibilities for why teaching is so difficult a career, since it means that eventually teachers will become more and more disillusioned with the endless wave of perceived stupidity they’re forced to endure."

All of the above is from the article I read online, not my words.
What do you think? Is knowledge a curse?


Closing Statement from W T

Knowledge........information obtained from experience or education.

A lot has been said in this debate/conversation about knowledge.

One may conclude that knowledge, in and of itself, is not a curse. Knowledge is essential in order to function in society, and in order to help others.

Knowledge though, is just the beginning.......there are other things worth seeking beyond knowledge...........

Among those other things worth seeking are............ understanding.......... discernment............and perhaps, if we are fortunate enough, we might obtain...........wisdom.

How we handle the knowledge we have is strictly up to us.

The world is filled with passionate individuals who hold a wealth of knowledge, and who also possess understanding of that knowledge. Wisely they seek to share their knowledge with others, whenever, and wherever they can.

The example of Nan Hauser which is discussed in this conversation is a fine example for all of us. There are many other examples worldwide.

May we all continue to see knowledge as a blessing and use it wisely to better ourselves and others.

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    Oct 26 2013: Is knowledge a curse? As Uncle Ben once said: "With great power comes great responsibility." Knowledge gives us responsibilities. You know fast food is toxic for you, what are you going to do about it? Gold mines are intoxicating rivers, what is your course of action? Some might consider it a curse, because they do not know what to do with that knowledge. We are cursed with the knowledge of not doing anything. But that is, of course, regarding knowledge that most would prefer to pass unseen.

    Now, regarding what the article is talking about, I have to quote Einstein here: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." When I encounter people that don't know as much as I do on a subject, I see it as an opportunity. I love explaining new things to people. Yet, I believe teaching is a difficult career because year after year you have to explain the same subject; it is as if your classroom, regardless of five years in math, don't understand that one subject. I'd get tired as well. But in ordinary day to day conversation? I try to meet them where they're at and start from there.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 26 2013: Thank you for your thoughts Chantal.
      If I had a nickel........

      Sometimes I think the "E" in TED could very well stand for Einstein. LOL
      Your view of knowledge in is harmony with what a lot of contributors have stated.

      As an educator, I too become bored with teaching the same material year after year....I have gotten around it by changing grade levels, and changing schools, and moving to different places to teach.

      Growing in knowledge, at the same time you impart knowledge to others is a good thing.

      Have you seen the Nan Hauser story. She is a marine biologist. I think you will find her use of knowledge to be quite interesting. I think you will enjoy watching the documentary Lejan linked.....here it is. Enjoy!!

      • Oct 27 2013: I like what you have said when quoting Einstein " If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough". I on certain subjects know it well enough to explain. While me the way i ask questions and explain it, i tend to put in in ways people don't understand it even though i put it in the most simply way i can. i try not to ask questions because when i do it boggles the teachers how i ask questions. sometimes when i ask things the way other students may ask things, i feel as though i'm asking it wrong and when i ask it my way nobody understands. I try to express myself and show people through doing things rather then explaining it in words. It's better that way for them, but harder for me. Is it better to teach a person visually or through another way? Help me please.
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          Oct 27 2013: Hi Cinthia. :) I actually know how you feel. I'd often ask questions that were quite unusual during class; what I realized is that I wasn't searching for explanations per se, but for an expansion on that knowledge. I realize you said you try to express your way by doing things because it is easier for THEM, but not for you. It is hard for people to understand you if you have a hard time understanding yourself. If you don't feel comfortable by doing things, then simply go by word, comparison or representation. When people don't understand me I try to use metaphors, analogies or simplify my question and then follow it up with more questions until I get to the level I want.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 28 2013: Hello Cinthia, thank you for your thoughts on this subject.

          May I add some further thoughts?

          Some people learn in a good way when you show visual help.......some learn just when you talk to them......others need to see you doing what you are trying to show them.

          I think it depends what you are trying to show and teach.

          It sounds like you have a gift for teaching others. As you get older and attain more knowledge of how we humans learn, perhaps you will no longer have trouble being able to impart your knowledge to others.

          I hope I have helped you a little.
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        Oct 27 2013: @Mary M: Thank you for the link, Mary. I didn't even know another species of whales existed! I liked how Nan approached the issue midrange sonars with the NAVY. She used reason over passion, something we sometimes tend to oversee.

        By the way, I also agree that one of the best ways of learning is through sharing knowledge.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 28 2013: That was a nice video wasn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed it.
          She seems like a well balanced person with a natural ability to make others comfortable around her.

          I have a quote for you regarding the sharing of knowledge.....

          "If you have a dollar, and I have a dollar.
          And I give you my dollar, and you give me yours,
          we will still each have only a dollar.

          But, if I have an idea that works,
          and you have an idea that works,
          and I share my idea with you,
          and you share your idea with me.
          Then, we will each have two ideas that work"

          Life is beautiful when we spend it sharing ideas that work with others.
          And we all have ideas that work, this knowledge is worth sharing......freely.......for the betterment of mankind. That is why having an open mind to other's ideas is so important.

          Thank you Chantal for contributing to this conversation. :)
          I'm Mary, nice to meet you!!
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    Oct 19 2013: Acquiring knowledge can be an extremely empowering and satisfying life experience
    it can also mean never being able to go back to the blissful ignorance we once enjoyed.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 20 2013: Oooh William.....yes, knowledge is a curse in the sense that once you know something, you have a certain responsibility that might come with it.

      It's like being around the office when they install the new copying machine.....and YOU were the only one trained to use it.......curses!!! Each time someone has trouble with it, they come looking for you.
      You may choose to fix the problem, or you may choose to share your knowledge of the machine with others and share the wealth (of knowledge).

      I have friends that have never learned how to operate a camera, just because they hate being asked to take pictures........some people enjoy blissful ignorance.........less responsibility.

      Others love knowledge.........but they do not like to share it.
      And still others delight in sharing the information they have with others who are in need of obtaining it.
      Thanks William for joining the conversation.
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        Oct 20 2013: even more poignantly, the German word weltschmerz refers to the depression that follows realizing one's own sheltered existence is s far cry from the poverty, misery and suffering that afflicts the majority of the people in the world.
        • W T 100+

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          Oct 20 2013: Oh yes.........and usually this weltschmerz hits in old age......,,,,or middle age.....when these same people think it is too late to learn anything new.

          I have had many conversations with the elderly and the old-at-heart about this very same issue.

          I am glad to see that many of the speakers on TED are up in years.....and many of the audience members are too.....as well as those of us in the TED community.

          Living = learning.............in my dictionary.

          Thanks amigo for your thoughts.
          Be careful with those pistols ya here Yosemite?

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    . . 100+

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    Oct 16 2013: The universe and everything in the universe is a blessing.
    Our knowledge is our attempt at understanding this universe.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 16 2013: Yes Juliette, you are correct. Knowledge is a wonderful thing.
  • W T 100+

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    Oct 28 2013: I have submitted a list of quotes from various contributors to this debate.
    I hope that reading through it might give you an idea of the many insights that were brought out regarding knowledge.

    I have written the name of the contributors next to the quotes. That way you can go and find them and read some more if you would like.
  • W T 100+

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    Oct 28 2013: “Those who are cursed should not blame knowledge ... egos are most likely the cause.” Robert Winner

    “Knowledge is not a curse for the wise” Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

    “Regardless of how much content knowledge a person has, pedagogical content knowledge is vital” Fritzie

    “Without modesty the knowledge will turn into a real Curse for Man” Riadh Boukratem

    “As you educate yourself (grow in knowledge), you exile yourself from these circle-soothing societies one by one. It is a no win situation. How else to react to that than anger or depression?” Krisztian Pinter

    "Knowledge is knowing Tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not using it on a fruit salad." Gunjan Ghimire

    “If someone has an arrogant character, no matter how much knowledge he has, he always thinks he's right and others are stupid.” Yoka Feng

    “Knowledge becomes stale once it is known.” Manish Khatri

    “Knowledge is evolving so if one stops learning at certain point thinking s/he knows it all , in some other point s/he will find herself / himself an ignorant .” Salim Solaiman

    “Do you think there may also be a link between the considerable accumulation of knowledge and mental agility in some people with high-functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome - the 'curse' being related to their inability to impart that knowledge on others without labeling them as 'stupid”. Allan Macdougall

    "Our knowledge is our attempt at understanding this universe." Juliette Zahn

    "We should lower our intellect to the level of the child, not our emotions" Adriaan Braam

    “Anyone who is genuinely passionate about what he knows tries by all means to share it with others in order to bring them to his level of knowledge. This is how great leaders have transformed the world.”
    Bongani Sibeko

    "What makes people more vulnerable of being cursed are highly talented people who never struggled a lot with learning...they may be knowledgeable and smart, yet they often have difficulties to imagine that not all people have their brains." (paraphrased) Lejan
  • Oct 26 2013: In your first passage you stated that from "the curse of knowledge" it states it is harder to teach a subject you know so much about to a person who knows so little, correct? I am only 16 but yet out of my whole family i find it hard to discuss any of my interest based on any and all animals (almost all). i would one day love to be a marine biologist, but how can i do so if i can't discuss with someone the true meaning and importance of marine life if no one seems to pay mind when i say a sentence on the subject at hand. i find it hard for people in school to say something so ignorant about animals especially when finding myself in biology class last year. people would tend to say "wow that whale is a fish". while in fact whales are big mammals not fishes at all. I try not to discuss on any subject people don't know much about even if it is out of that subject. people are going to be ignorant and even though you know what is factual and based off real experience, people won't take what another person says into consideration because they just say "that's a lie, and are trying to show off". I don't feel that having knowledge is a curse but indeed a gift and such of importance, for the reason that when something that may or may not be a chaos people that have the knowledge of anything, from something so small as how to tie a knot to how to save a dolphin will always be a gift of life, and can one day come down to just that. Hope you see this has helped. Feel free to ask questions
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    Oct 23 2013: I never would call knowledge a curse, but I agree that the more you know the more difficult it becomes to communicate that to others.
    Knowledge is something that drives humanity. Our curiosity for gathering more and more knowledge brought us to where we are today (good and bad).
    One could knowledge consider a curse maybe in the sense that the more you know the more you figure how little you know. In addition, with increasing knowledge one also becomes increasingly isolated because there will be fewer and fewer people to share this knowledge with.
    So, some people actually might consider ignorance is bliss.
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      Oct 23 2013: I think knowledge should be developed with humanity too. Knowledge has no fault, it's humans who make it look like a curse.:)
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 23 2013: Harald, thank you for contributing to this small conversation of such a big topic.

      May I ask you a question?

      Have you watched the documentary that Lejan linked below on the Marine Biologist Nan Hauser?

      Here is the link......


      And I will have to respectfully disagree with you when you say "with increasing knowledge one also becomes increasingly isolated because there will be fewer and fewer people to share this knowledge with".

      Perhaps if you had stuck a "may become" and there "may be fewer and fewer" I could agree.

      But it is really up to the individual to choose isolation or loftiness.

      I think if you watch the Nan Hauser story you will realize what I mean.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your knowledge of this topic with us.
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        Oct 23 2013: Hi Mary, no I didn't watch the video but I will and you are right, it should be "may become increasingly isolated", although fact is that not everybody is driven to attain knowledge, so inevitably, the gap between somebody seeking knowledge and those not interested in it will be ever larger.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 24 2013: Yes Harald I believe you have a point there.

      But in today's technological age don't you think now more than ever before knowledge is abundant?
      And easily attainable, so that people are more likely to seek it?
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        Oct 24 2013: I agree Mary, today it's easier to access knowledge, however, not everybody is interested.
        For example, I'm very interested in everything related to sustainability, however, most people I talk show little interest in deeper conversations about this topic, although they might agree that it is an important topic.
        Another example, among other things I'm also a sommelier, meaning wine is one of my passions. Although many people like to drink a glass of wine, few actually care about how wine is made, different grape types, the influence of soil and climate on grape quality, etc.
        I could give you many more examples but I assume you get the general idea.
  • Oct 22 2013: Knowledge is beautiful, liberating and fulfilling. Yes, the more you know the less people you can *easily* share that knowledge with others. But that only happens if you forget your roots. For example, I continue using the very same street slang I grew up with, even when explaining the science I work within.
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      Oct 22 2013: Good point Entropy.....I agree:>)
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 22 2013: That is exactly the topic at hand.
      Thank you for sharing with us the strategy that helps you not to forget "your roots".
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    Oct 21 2013: Upon reading about some of the 'favourite teachers' mentioned below I felt compelled to add one of my own. While in second year studies it came time for me to take a statistics course. However, when I mentioned this to my friends and colleagues many lamented how much they disliked the subject or what a terrible experience it was for them. These responses surprised me since I knew it would be about numbers and I liked numbers. Numbers make far more sense than most people ever do and numbers never lie or attempt to deceive themselves or others. So I chose to have a good experience.

    Unfortunately, such as not the case the first time around. I am sure the guy knew his stuff but I was already confused after the first week and went to him numerous times for help. But by the end of the month I dropped the course.

    However, the next semester offered a second stats class and I again signed up. This guy was what I was looking for. I was still confused in the beginning but when I went to him for clarity he had an infinite ways of explaining the same thing. While the first guy kept reiterating the same points but with different words, the second guy would offer different ways of perceiving the same idea until one clicked. And that was why I was grinning ear to ear at the end of that statistics course, the one that had no grade below an a-.

    Both knew statistics. But the second was far more competent at disseminating that knowledge to a wider audience.

    Another interesting note about the two teachers. The first looked and carried himself as a member of the pale, indoor, intelligent and informed community populating most universities. The second had the rugged outdoors look of a rancher or farmer complete with cowboy boots and big shiny belt buckle and might even have been a bit bowlegged :).
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      Oct 21 2013: 'Numbers make far more sense than most people ever do and numbers never lie or attempt to deceive themselves or others.'

      Well observed. Which brings numbers somewhat close to domestic animals, in a way... :o)

      'While the first guy kept reiterating the same points but with different words, the second guy would offer different ways of perceiving the same idea until one clicked.'

      Thats very well put! Right on spot and what separates people with knowledge from teachers!
      • W T 100+

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        Oct 21 2013: I will second that!!
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 21 2013: You know, I have been fortunate enough throughout my life to meet very talented individuals, who also happen to be teachers. They have an innate talent to share the knowledge they have accumulated.

      How kind of you to come back and share your personal experience with all of us.

      Thank you William.........if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend watching the vimeo video that Lejan linked below on Nan Hauser.

      Be Well.
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      Oct 21 2013: But beware, some numbers may still bite you ... :o)

      Sixty Symbols: Imaginary Number
      • W T 100+

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        Oct 28 2013: I did a recap of the debate with quotes that jumped out at me as I reread the contributions.
        If you have the time, come back and read through them......
  • Steve C

    • +3
    Oct 19 2013: As far as explaining things to others, Einstein said that 'if you can't explain it in simple terms, you don't understand it'; or something like that, I think.
    Another question is how are you going to handle that knowldge - what are you going to DO with it? (Are you optimistic or pessimistic?) Are you going to just sit there and build a worldview that veers ever-more to the unrealistic in your mind, or will you test it in the real world & develop realistic buttresses with other minds & bodies?
    And yes, Mike is right that many times people do not want to hear the actual truth! (And I'm beginning to wonder about how to connect better, so "the message" is secondary.)
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      Oct 19 2013: I totally agree Steve C....if one cannot explain it in simple terms, s/he does not fully understand it!

      I also agree that HOW we use knowledge is a very important piece. Some folks would like to put themselves on a pedestal with their presumed knowledge, and if they cannot adequately share the information, what good is the knowledge? It is important to have the knowledge, AND be able to share the information in several different communication "styles", otherwise the message is lost to the audience.
      • Steve C

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        Oct 22 2013: Seems that a lot of folks would like to be on a pedestal of any variety - and there are false pedestals to choose from as well.
        Yes, different communication styles, learning styles & thinking/feeling types are important too; maybe secondarily to being able to see if someone is more concerned with another impending matter than the one at hand.
        I've had recent deep thought on the matter - this "how" is how I've been holding myself back. "How" points very much to me & my fears, and my decisions about me & my fears, pains and distrusts.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 20 2013: Thank you Steve. This quote by Einstein gets a lot of mention in TED conversations.

      Could you elaborate on your last statement that appears in parenthesis? I'm not quite sure I understand it.
      • Oct 22 2013: Ah, "...I'm beginning to wonder about how to connect better, so 'the message' is secondary."
        You drudge that old thing up... I was hoping it'd get glossed-over by readers, as it concerns personal philosophies of a tender nature; questioning old assumptions & relearning life; "relationships-first."
        I think I spoke of it in one of my very first posts: "I am enough."
        This "gnowledge" has been one of my personal shields; as evidenced by the crutch of reading only non-fiction.
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      Oct 22 2013: Ah.... yes Steve C, there are many varieties of pedestals.....you are right about that my friend:>) The problem with the pedestal, is that one who puts him/herself there, is isolated from other people, and therefor whatever knowledge s/he has, may feel like a curse because it is difficult to share information from way up there!

      Why do you think/feel that the "how" is holding you back? I find that if we are asking ourselves a question like "how", we are seeking information and moving forward. Yes, it sometimes reveals fears, and in my humble perception, that is how we learn and grow...."relearning life", as you insightfully say.

      We can feel...."I am enough" in this moment, while also knowing that there is more to learn....make any sense? To do that of course, we need to be off the pedestal......down on the ground rooting under every stone yet uncovered:>)

      Why do you think/feel that reading non-fiction is a "crutch"?
      • Steve C

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        Oct 23 2013: Edited for size & reply
        If we're asking how, we're seeking, but if life asks us "how," we may say "IDK," and give-up.
        "How" holds me back because I never learned self-esteem well; Mignon McLaughlin said, "Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers." I never learned to apply myself to anything difficult, (e.g. social); it was too easy to say 'I can't.' It's a vicious cycle to back away from fears & lose faith in one's worth. So I tried to learn facts, & grow theories of mind & matter in place of heart & soul.
        "We can feel....'I am enough' in this moment, while also knowing that there is more to learn...." That makes great sense. "I am enough," is golden; "more to learn," (if wisdom), is bonus. But "more facts," is just tinsel.
        Facts are a "crutch" when one still feels empty inside. I wonder now if some fiction may be a way for an author's dreams to explore possibilities of bravery, human worth and the hard stuff.
        "down on the ground rooting..." I'd agree, but I had a thought recently, as I have thought much of the subconscious mind, I now wonder if our true motives & volitional powers lie in our hopes & dreams.

        RE: Risk seems to be an almost-magical act.

        I grew up curious about science - but I had to defend inside.
        Fear of the unknown seems like a fear of being forgotten, of things left unsaid or not-done.

        "Be kind to yourself" is a hard-sell; seems too cliche. "I shouldn't have to reassure myself.

        An upward "cycle" - I imagined it as linear, but cyclical may be better.

        Emptiness, is close at hand to ponder, but no, I don't feel empty inside; talking, (talking's different than acting); it has a certain safe logic to it.

        I suppose I shouldn't expect anything but a long-road for a soul in an infinitely-layered universe. It does seem that everything is connected, but maybe some connections still have to be built, realized, (or merely "claimed or "exclaimed," as I imagine someone brave & strong do).

        thank-you for the "insight & wisdom" comments.
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          Oct 26 2013: I agree Steve C, that sometimes not knowing how to explore something causes some folks to give up. Personally, I love exploring, because in each moment, there is an opportunity to learn and grow. So the curiosity stimulates the pursuit of information, which contributes to knowledge, which in my humble perception, is a joyful process:>)

          I also agree with you that it takes a certain amount of courage (or self esteem as you say), to take the risk of going beyond what we think we know at any given time. It is risky on our part to delve into something that may be unknown to us. You are very insightful to realize there may be a cycle involved...backing away from fears, losing faith in one's worth, ability and strength....which causes us to back away even more.....on and on....

          Once we start delving, however, and learn that it is not so terrible, we may discover that it is really a gift to ourselves......a gift that can strengthen our courage and self esteem. That is another cycle my friend....learn more, which strengthens our courage and self esteem, which causes more stimulation and curiosity to delve more.....you see?

          Be kind to yourself, because your exploration into "non-fiction book knowledge" does not have to be "in place of heart & soul". In my perception, everything is interconnected, so we can integrate everything we learn to form theories of mind & matter, heart & soul".

          I am curious....do you feel "empty inside" with this conversation? Because you are sharing some wisdom, knowledge, self esteem, courage with sharing your personal story, trust, and insight. Wherever that information came from doesn't really matter.....you are "applying" it very well my friend:>)

          Wherever our "motives & volitional powers" lie, may be unique to the individual, don't you think?
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          Oct 28 2013: Steve C,
          I notice your edit.....beginning with...
          "RE: Risk seems to be an almost-magical act".....

          Regarding your comment...
          ""Be kind to yourself" is a hard-sell; seems too cliche. "I shouldn't have to reassure myself."

          When I remind myself and others to "be kind to yourself", it is more than an empty phrase. We are often taught to be kind and respectful to others, and it's important to extend that kindness, understanding, compassion and respect to our "self" when we need it.

          You say you "shouldn't have to reassure" yourself. There was a time when I believed that too my friend....I shouldn't have to reassure myself. I finally discovered that it was/is ok to reassure myself, and why should others give me the gift of reassurance if I'm not willing to give it to my "self"? Can we genuinely give something away that we do not have in and for ourselves? I don't think so.

          I agree with you that "some connections still have to be built, realized, (or merely "claimed or "exclaimed," as I imagine someone brave & strong do)."

          I believe we were/are connecting, building, realizing, claiming and exclaiming right here and now my friend.....thank you very much for this conversation...I appreciate you giving me more information, which may lead to more knowledge:>)
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    Oct 16 2013: I do not agree that knowledge is a curse Mary M. I agree with Lejan...any teacher who perceives students as stupid would do us all a favor to seek another profession. Labeling students a "wave of perceived stupidity" seems like the teacher is telling us more about him/herself than about the students.

    In my perception and experience, those who have knowledge, also usually have the ability to recognize different communication styles, and if they so desire, can change their explanation to fit the level of understanding of those they are communicating with.

    From the teachers I know, I learn that teaching is more challenging these days because they spend so much time with discipline, trying to keep the class organized, and paperwork which is required before they can actually begin to teach!
  • W T 100+

    • +2
    Oct 28 2013: ---continued............

    “Knowledge can be followed by curses from others” Mike Colera

    “Acquiring knowledge……..can also mean never being able to go back to the blissful ignorance we once enjoyed.” William Clegg

    "The best knowledge is when it comes to you spontaneously rather than by hard learning.” Yubal Masalker

    “There is a huge explosion in knowledge but we are lagging behind in our growth of consciousness” Joshua Bond

    "Knowledge is a curse when no one understands you." Gio Rana

    "Many intelligent people may not be genuinely interested in sharing information because they might feel it is "below" them?" Coleen Steen

    “The more knowledgeable human's are getting the more Exploitation is happening either of Mother nature, either of other living creatures, either of Non living beings, or Space” Kuldeep Negi

    “The more you know the less people you can *easily* share that knowledge with others. But that only happens if you forget your roots.” Entropy Driven

    "Craving knowledge while neglecting the other aspects of life such as relationships and social life may become a curse..." Dian Mend

    “Knowledge gives us responsibilities.” Chantal Soldini

    Thank you to everyone who participated.

    I will be adding closing remarks tomorrow........after the conversation closes.
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    Oct 27 2013: it's a cure to the curse of ignorance...after all
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 28 2013: Yes.......yes, it may well be that......after all.
  • Oct 21 2013: Knowledge Is a Seed
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    Oct 21 2013: in addition to what have been said already, let me introduce my "mailman theory".

    observe mailmen, as they leave the post office in the morning. they depart as a group, and they immediately split up, some goes to the left, some to the right. then they split up further, some goes to the bicycle racks, some to the bus station, etc. and so on, as they go on their way, they split into smaller and smaller groups, and finally they arrive to their district alone.

    this happens with understanding too. the better you understand the world, the smaller the group of people sharing your views. and as you advance, it is inevitable for the group to eventually split. only if you stop, and all the others stop as well, you can keep the group together.

    in that sense, knowledge has an antisocial element. and i think this is one of the reasons behind anti-intellectual sentiments.
    • W T 100+

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      Oct 21 2013: That is an interesting theory.

      But, there is a difference between "understanding the world", and having in depth knowledge of a subject area............You cannot obtain a PHD in "understanding the world", but you may certainly obtain a PHD in marine biology and spend 30 years on a Pacific Island observing humpback whales and becoming a renown expert on these sea creatures.

      The question is, what will you do with that knowledge?

      How will you communicate with others?

      Will you look down on humanity for NOT having your knowledge?
      Or will you humbly share your passion and knowledge with those who seek to understand your field?

      You want an example? Here........this is an example of knowledge being a blessing and not a curse:


      Nan Hauser shows us how an expert can speak to those less knowledgeable without being condescending.
      Notice her smile and her patience and her illustrations
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        Oct 21 2013: yeah, my post addresses only a subset of learning, namely those that supposed to change your life. knowledge about quantum mechanics just excludes quantum mechanics from the topics you like to discuss, but does not exclude you from your social circles. not that big of a loss.

        i'm not necessarily talking about "looking down". in my experience, as the knowledge difference grows between two persons, first there is discussion, then there is teaching, then after some threshold it becomes either a desperate but hopeless undertaking or a simply lie. or of course it can be simply abandoned.

        as an example, after i finally (years of trying and failing) acquired a rough approximate understanding of the general theory of relativity, i can not anymore wholeheartedly support any popular approaches to it. the only honest approach left is to simply say: sorry, but this concept is not available, not even in a grossly oversimplified form, without high level mathematics. everything else is dishonest, and you should not listen.

        smiling is easy. admitting the truth is not always.
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          Oct 21 2013: "in my experience, as the knowledge difference grows between two persons, first there is discussion, then there is teaching, then after some threshold it becomes either a desperate but hopeless undertaking or a simply lie. or of course it can be simply abandoned."

          Yes, I see your point.

          I have often struggled with individuals who, despite my best efforts, are unable to understand the information I am trying to share with them.

          Sometimes, we just do not know why they are unable to understand.

          Call it entrenched inclinations.....memes....hard headedness.....hopeless morons.....or just plain lack of cognitive abilities, I do understand your point. I really do.

          So knowledge then is a curse at times, isn't it? Especially when we are at our wits end trying to make others understand us, and seeing that our attempts are futile, I'm I correct?

          I really appreciate you coming back and attempting to help me understand.

          And, because of you, I was able to link the Nan Hauser interview.......and because of that, Lejan linked his Vimeo video.........and due to that, now I am elated, it is some video, I hope you watch it!!...........So, thank you Krisztian, thank you!!
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          Oct 21 2013: Unfortunately to long for you to watch, because of your to do list, yet maybe interesting to others:

          Sixty Symbols : Relativity Paradox

          And no, math alone isn't key for understanding.
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          Oct 21 2013: Highly recommended to see!

          Sixty Symbols : What confuses a physicist?
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      Oct 21 2013: You talk about branching, thats ok, yet there is no antisocial element in knowledge itself. The fact that it's been misused is what makes it 'anti' in social interaction, the way people act upon it too.

      The problem also occurs when one of your postman claims to be the only one who arrived at the true and only valid destination and mail receiver of them all. As 'the world', whatever than means, can be understood in many and equally valid ways.

      This is why it is so important, that acceptable social behavior and their nurturing conditions get decided by the majority of the people who form a given community, and not by just a view who claim to have found the only 'branch of wisdom' and attempt to rule them all.

      The only anti-intellectual sentiment I noticed so far is within religion vs science and against the so called 'leftist' body of thought in capitalist based economies. Both of them are artificially triggered and sustained by a ruling authority to maintain their position of power.

      Any other resentments are less generalized and mainly caused by 'intellectuals' who didn't manage to get their point across in simple and understandable terms.
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        Oct 21 2013: Did you see the clip of the marine biologist I linked Lejan?
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          Oct 21 2013: Yes I did and it doesn't happen often to literally feel the spirit and heart's blood of a scientist that close via this media. Nan Hauser linked her heart with her face.
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        Oct 21 2013: This is a reply to your comment below.....about Celia Cruz.

        I think that Celia Cruz is very unique Lejan. No other Cuban entertainer that I know of has had the love for people that she displays. If you click on Juliette's links.....one of them shows Celia singing, and the camera continually goes to an older gentleman with watery eyes. That my friend was her husband. They were inseparable. He was quiet, also an entertainer, but quiet. Their love for each other was exemplary. That in itself was a great testimony to anyone who knew her.

        If you click on my first link below, you will see her intoxicating appeal.......she loved what she did. But the knowledge she had of music was never lorded over the audience. Her knowledge was not a curse......

        Hope you enjoyed your weekend.....I'm in the middle of studying for a midterm exam.....coming online relaxes me a bit.....
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          Oct 21 2013: Either way we take it Mary, Bob Marley got it right in saying:

          No woman, no cry.

          But I know what you mean and the husbands testimony tells me more than that of hundred other people, in a way, because there could be other reasons for him to cry which may not all be sweet by their nature.

          It also didn't surprise me, that her husband was quiet by his temper, as it seems to be almost a necessity for highly extroverted individuals to have this form of counter-balance. I don't know if this is a matter of accessible 'stage space' or the attractiveness of the 'opposite', yet to me 'inseparability' is a very positive sign for a healthy and working relationship.

          Good luck for your studies! :o)
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        Oct 21 2013: OK, Lejan, I'm coming back to ask you about something that William Clegg mentioned below.....

        The word "weltschmerz".

        Care to share your view of this?
        You might want to check out his comment below.....William is dressed up as Yosemite Sam.......a piece of Americana............don't let the guns scare you.
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          Oct 21 2013: Those guns have been pointed at me at kindergarten, so I am used to them since ... :o)

          The German word Weltschmerz has become an anachronism today in my view, as it is not used anymore within the current German language and, if at all, only used within the context of romantic literature or philosophy from times long passed.

          It goes very well with elegiac reflections and melancholic moments, yet is of temporary character only. Its most favorable season is autumn, or better was, and it is inseparably linked with an romantic view on the world.

          I think any German still gets it in their 'hello planet - welcome kit', yet the pace of modern times does not allow to practice it in young years very often.

          I personally substituted the word Weltschmerz by the following phrase:

          Optimism is a lack of information

          Which does not allow this reflection to be of just temporary nature and keeps pace with modern times without any problems and time delay. It works in all four seasons as well as under zero 'gravity' conditions (though I didn't like the movie). :o)

          The phrase on its own states, that 'knowledge is a curse' although this sort of knowledge is restricted to 'information' only, whereas the destruction of 'optimism' kills off any romantic aspect in it right away.

          I am certainly not happy about this necessary changes and adjustments, but Weltschmerz just doesn't fit anymore in this modern Zeitgeist.
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        Oct 21 2013: You should watch the entire 60 minutes presentation on humpback whales.
        It was riveting........and I mean riveting...........I won't spoil it for you......

        Here is the link:



        Oooops......let me clarify.......by 60 minutes I do not mean that the video is 60 minutes long.
        The show itself is CALLED "60 MINUTES". It is a news program that airs on Sunday nights in America, and it lasts for 60 minutes. The whale piece was just one of the stories last night.
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          Oct 21 2013: Thank you for the link!

          It turns out, that Nan Hauser is as interesting as a person and scientist as the whales she is talking about. :o)

          Thats what I call a beautiful mind and heart!

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          Oct 21 2013: By the way, I once was very close to apply for a job opening at Sea Sheppard. The only reason which kept me doing this, was, that all their ships are strictly 'non smoking' areas, even at deck. :o)
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          Oct 21 2013: Footprints on the water: Nan Hauser story

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        Oct 21 2013: "Nan Hauser is as interesting as a person and scientist as the whales she is talking about."

        May I submit this for the Understatement of the Year Award?

        What an amazing video.......let me say it again........What an amazing video!!!

        Serendipity!!! That's what these two days have been....filled with little moments that have all come together in this conversation. Wasn't she something else?

        Her life philosophy....."Why learn it, if you don't share it"

        I was pleasantly surprised at how it ended.........

        Lejan, thank you for sharing that video with us.
        I won't share any more from it because I hope everyone coming here will click on the link and watch the WHOLE thing.

        {If I score low on my test, I am holding you accountable} {Well.........partly} ;)
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          Oct 21 2013: I hereby declare to accept responsibility for any low score on your test and leave any good ones to you alone. I think thats a fair deal, isn't it? ;o)

          As for the 'Understatement of the Year Award' I like to encourage anyone to remember, that this form of devotion, of personal calling and passion, often comes at a high price which does not become visible in documentations.

          I also tend not to super-elevate individuals, regardless of their talents, yet I do appreciate to learn from them in their field of excellence.

          Her credo, 'Why learn it, if you don't share it' is simply beautiful and I can only hope she is aware that much of her success is related to her very character. If not realized and wisely taken care of, her achievements may not sustain beyond her lifespan.

          Following those 'Footprints on the water', even though they haven't been set intentionally deep, can be a very difficult task for her followers. But because how the documentary ended, it seems she is already passing on her wonderful legacy ... :o)
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        Oct 24 2013: I have been thinking about what you stated.......... "I also tend not to super-elevate individuals, regardless of their talents".......

        I think that is wise of you.

        I think the teacher in me is always finding ways of praising people and thinking the best of them.
        I am a firm believer in "catch them doing good".
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          Oct 24 2013: Wise or just another fox grape - it depends on ones point of view I guess.

          Prising students and to focus a bit more on their talents than on their weaknesses is not super-elevating, on the contrary. It creates a positive and encouraging stratosphere for them to unfold and explore their abilities and to widen them.

          Yet super-elevation would be destructive, as it spoils more than it would support.

          We are all just humans, thats what we are.
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        Oct 24 2013: Exactly......just humans.

        This human is going to call it a day.....

        Thanks for the exchange.... :D
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    Oct 20 2013: Knowledge can be a curse, but only for as long as we are unable to integrate it.

    Such "integration" requires that we grow in consciousness so that we can reconcile (at a higher level) the increased duality which knowledge brings.

    Or if you prefer in a different language, that we reconcile the "good and evil" experienced from eating of that fruit. This 'fruit' enables the potential of an upgrade in wisdom, but it has to become actually realized as a higher level of wisdom, otherwise it is likely to be realized as rampant evil on an ever-increasing global scale.

    The huge explosion in knowledge in recent years, particularly through technology as an amplifier of the human mind, increasingly makes vital the need to grow in consciousness (ie: grow psychologically and spiritually). Such growth in consciousness is currently lagging behind, and we are unable to handle the huge increase in knowledge (currently potential for "good and evil") by integrating it as higher wisdom.
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    Oct 19 2013: Knowledge is, actually, a boon in times of crisis. It is, however, a curse when your brain becomes overloaded with the knowledge you don't require. When it crosses a certain limit, your brain faces more difficulties in decision-making as more knowledge means more parameters/constraints to be thought about. So in such situations, when you know more than required, it becomes a curse.
    In a nutshell, know only what you need to know. Optimize the quality and quantity, and you'll see knowledge is nothing but a blessing.
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      Oct 22 2013: It has taken me some time to come back and ask you this.....I had to think about your contribution a while.

      Could you give us an example of knowledge that is Not required?
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    Oct 17 2013: Ms. Mary M.

    It's true.
    I know you could find this hard to believe,... but, I have proof.

    You can go back into all the conversations I have had on TED, read my highly educated comments... followed by a number of curses from others.
    It's a cross I bear humbly..
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    Oct 17 2013: Matt Ridley in his talk stated that (paraphrase) that willingness to communicate trumps IQ, by a lot.

    I think it comes back to something that Colleen and I state often, it boils down to interested v interesting.

    Many relish in being esoteric, right, mysterious, smarter, cooler, etc. but this is not interested in learning someone.

    And the corollary from the ignorance perspective. You has to know that you don't now before you can learn.
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      Oct 17 2013: Agree Pat!

      Mary M. focuses on..."as a person learns more about a subject, it becomes increasingly more difficult to discuss that subject with someone who doesn’t posses that knowledge".

      While that scenario may be true for some, I agree that many intelligent people may not be genuinely interested in sharing information because they might feel it is "below" them?

      I have also seen many intelligent people who do not communicate very well, therefor, they miss their audience. What is information if it cannot be adequately shared?

      Good English usage again my friend!!!
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        Oct 17 2013: You bring out a point no one else appears to have mentioned, "that many intelligent people may not be genuinely interested in sharing information because they might feel it is 'below' them".

        I sometimes think that in the medical field this might present a problem. Doctors, who lack a desire to educate their patients, might perhaps fall into this category. Instead of being forthcoming with pertinent information on diet, and other relevant information that might help eliminate a patient's symptoms, they may choose to prescribe a pill. The patient walks away with a prescription, but without knowledge of how to prevent the symptoms from appearing in the future.
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          Oct 17 2013: It DOES present a challenge in the medical field Mary M. I observe situations in which some medical professionals don't think the patient will understand, so they do not explain well.....and/or......there are certainly scenarios when the patient does not want to have all the information, the medical professional may sense this, so the patients don't get all the information.

          I think medical schools are focusing again, on connecting with patients, and informing them with accurate information IF they feel that the patient wants that. On the other side, it benefits the patient to know as much as possible about their body, how the systems of the body/mind are interconnected, knowing and understanding the dis-ease that is challenging the body/mind.

          I've heard some people say....I do not want to know the details. Personally, I seek every bit of information I can get because "knowledge is power". If we know how the systems of the interconnected body/mind work, there is a better chance to heal.

          Knowledge, of course is power in various situations of the life adventure.....the more information we have, the better able we are to make informed decisions and choices in ANY area:>)
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    Oct 16 2013: It can be a curse, if the teacher loses touch with the basics of his/her specialism.

    Losing touch with the basics is a kind of elitism. Sometimes wantonly to increase one's intellectual standing within a group of peers and/or to massage one's ego. Or unwittingly through forgetfulness and insensitivity to student needs. Forgetfulness is probably forgivable and can be rectified by increasing a two-way interaction with students. Wanton elitism on the other hand is wholly unforgivable and usually difficult to rectify. That person, despite his passion, should not be allowed anywhere near a student in my opinion, until he learns to leave his ego at home.

    A show of disdain from a knowledgeable but egotistical teacher towards a student is far more damaging than a show of empathy from someone less knowledgeable. Students are likely to learn more from the latter than they are from the former.

    Knowledge is merely memorised facts anyway, and we should not be expected to go around like walking hard-drives or encyclopedias. To have that much concentrated knowledge (though impressive) is not only a waste of thinking space, but also the 'cone of knowledge' becomes too narrowed to retain contextual relationships towards other disciplines - maybe good for exams, but not for students themselves.

    Retaining those contextual relationships with other disciplines is a good basis for how to think in a panoramic and worldly context - rather than specialising too narrowly and losing touch with those students who may possess amazing potential.

    The stupidity actually lies with the over-specialised teacher who has broken that bond between himself and the as yet unknown potential of his students. He would be better off in another profession that doesn't involve close interaction with other people.
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      Oct 16 2013: Your points are very well elaborated.
      What happens many times with teachers who are guilty of this elitist attitude is that originally they did not seek a teaching degree. They are just knowledgeable in an area, and decide to come into the teaching field without having the pedagogy. I think Fritzie's comment sheds light on this.

      The word ego has popped up several times in this conversation........and I think that perhaps this is the root of the reason for knowledge being seen as a curse. In the hands of someone with an inflated ego, even misinformation becomes something to boast about........

      So the problem then is not necessarily knowledge itself, but the person. In what other professions may we observe this type of behavior?
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        Oct 16 2013: I didn't mean to point my finger solely at teachers. I meant any presenter of knowledge whose job it is to inspire others and to move that knowledge forwards. That could be any influential person - parents, bosses, etc.

        Michael Sandel's style of imparting knowledge is one of the best in my opinion. He doesn't just spout his knowledge ad nauseam to a crowded room, he actually interacts with them empathically, respectfully and with genuine interest, asking questions that never belittles anyone, but rather to encourage deeper thought - and all with good humour.

        Listen to how he interacts with his audience in this BBC Radio4 programme "The Public Philosopher"


        This is a fine example of someone who certainly is not cursed in any way by his considerable knowledge.
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          Oct 17 2013: Wonderful link. I had never heard anyone hold a debate in this fashion.
          Thank you so much for sharing this. This is precisely how teachers should conduct classes when dealing with controversial issues. What a fine example for educators, as well as anyone involved in leadership roles.

          I highly encourage anyone reading through this conversation to listen to the broadcast linked.
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          Oct 17 2013: Thank you for the interesting link.

          Without doubt, Michael Sandel has a very fine way to moderate the process of learning and understanding, which I noticed the first time here on TED.

          In this particular BBC radio debate, however, he made in my view a crucial mistake.

          From the beginning, he established a certain frame, by calling speakers from the audience by their first names while he was interacting with them. Yet he made one exception, which was a medical doctor, for which he used her last-name as well as her title continuously.

          Although I understand, that as a University professor he might has an unconscious tendency towards these academic distinctions, it did damage the equality of personal opinions he was asking for in the debate.

          Besides this little lapse, I very much like his 'signature style' for interesting debates!
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        Oct 17 2013: Do you think there may also be a link between the considerable accumulation of knowledge and mental agility in some people with high-functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome - the 'curse' being related to their inability to impart that knowledge on others without labelling them as 'stupid' (because they don't have the same level of knowledge)...?

        I have little evidence to support that (as yet) - it is just a thought.

        Given that we are all positioned somewhere on the autistic spectrum, is it possible that one of the curses of knowledge is related to social disability inherent in autism?
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          Oct 17 2013: This is a point I had not even thought about.

          Well, I take that back.....I have friends that are always telling me that they just can't find a way to say what they know. They cannot formulate the words into coherent sentences.....when they try, it sounds like a mix of thoughts with no formal structure.

          I don't know why this is so.........I have spent hours discussing this point with them, and asking questions about their schooling, and what goes through their minds at times.

          I have yet to reach a conclusion. Also, having many friends with autistic children, and being an educator, I don't for one minute consider autistic children any less capable of being knowledgeable than their counterpart.

          This "inability" to impart knowledge is quite amazing to think about..............speaking in sign language comes to mind. The human brain, once it realizes that communication is possible, seeks out to find ways to give information and get information..........I feel this is quite a strong desire in humans........Also, think of the blind...........I mean, there are many systems in place for humans with various difficulties in language skills to receive and give knowledge.

          I think your comment brings out a point that helps us to realize how important of a field neuroscience is. Since coming to TED, I have grown in my admiration of the human brain and all it's complexities.

          Here is an article from Neurology Now magazine. Although it does not directly involve our conversation, you might find this new technology very interesting. We are very complex creatures, and many of us have a strong desire to understand what we're made of.........the future holds fascinating gems of knowledge..............I am very optimistic as to what humankind will discover............


          You have given me some food-for-thought. I will think on your words.....thank you.
  • Oct 15 2013: Mary,

    I have to disagree with the article. Knowledge is always good but it must start with the knowledge of what you do not know. When you have knowledge and passion, you are willing to explain things in different ways and learn more ways to explain this.

    I have seen some teachers who know only 1 way and are scared to be shown up by students. They tend to have a lesson plan and stick to it to the letter without taking into account the difference in students. In fact that is what is fun in teaching, 1 method will work with one student while you have to use another to reach a different student.
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      Oct 16 2013: I think that you bring out an excellent point Wayne.

      There are different types of learning styles. So a teacher who is truly passionate about her professional pedagogy will be very knowledgeable as to this, and be very efficient as a teacher, seeing that every child is capable of learning.

      HOWEVER............once you get into higher education, then you run into professors with a huge knowledge base, but little patience for dumbing down the information.

      So what to do???

      I think this is what the article is expressing......that knowledge may be a curse to these types of individuals.

      I'll ask you the same question I've asked others Wayne, what other professions do you think this happens in? And, have you had any personal experiences with people like this?
      • Oct 17 2013: Mary,

        Think University is a different model - students choose to go to University and choose the course and professors - The burden of control of each student's education has switched from the Administration to the student. Most professors, especially non-tenured, must publish and do research - that is their primary goal, to get tenure. Most would like to spend more time with students and teach - they just do not have the time and it is up to the student to find the right sources, ta's, other professors, other students, the web, books. If a student expects to be spoon fed (had a student ask for me to go over the entire course 2 weeks before the final exam and they had never done homework or appeared in class - no other questions) those that are not great teachers usually are not great researchers - there are exceptions.

        I have seen this (never in the best people) in engineering and programming where people can not explain why they designed something that way. In good organizations, there are design reviews and they are questioned by their peers and answers are demanded. If the answers are not forth coming, the design is not allowed to go forward and the designer's reputation is damaged in the organization.
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          Oct 17 2013: You have just educated me in regards to design reviews.

          Thank you Wayne for your contributions. I appreciate your input.

          So perhaps then, learning to communicate your thoughts and knowledge effectively may be considered an important piece of the puzzle.

          I think that speech, the standing in front of others and explaining things, and sharing narratives on diverse subjects would be very beneficial to students in the lower grades. What do you think of this idea?
      • Oct 18 2013: I agree - I think having students, present, debate, even teach a class (one class)would be great. On the lower grades, below 6 - it would have to be tailored - It is not my area of expertise but grade 6 and above it can be done and was part of my schooling.

        The college I went to required a public speaking class or be on a debate or drama team in your freshman year. Thought it was a great idea. Still do.
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          Oct 20 2013: There are plenty of opportunity in the lower grades to teach oratorical skills to the little ones. There are science fair projects, where an oral presentation is required. There are oratorical competitions. There are show and tell sessions in class.

          It is up to the teacher to involve students in as much speaking as possible. Some teachers though, do not enjoy these activities. So some students miss out on cultivating and perfecting their skills.

          In college I also took part of speech class. It was a requirement. Great class......and lots of different speeches, each with it's purpose. I still remember the talks I gave......and that was a looooong time ago.
      • Oct 20 2013: Great - I would say that earlier the better. You have no idea how many engineers/programmers, even phd level, I have sent to a presentation class and speaking class.

        I also remember my final which was making an extemporaneous speech.
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          Oct 20 2013: I am very surprised to hear that you would need to send phd level professionals to speaking classes........well sort of surprised...........

          I love extemporaneous speeches.........it's what we do here on TED all the time isn't it?
      • Oct 20 2013: So was I at 1st - been working to understand why.

        and yes it should be what we do on TED
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    Oct 15 2013: I don't think this is true. To take a slightly different example, I don't think people with large vocabularies and lots of years of education find it harder to talk to their four-year-olds than people with smaller vocabulary and less education. I think depth of understanding is an advantage in teaching a subject, in part because real understanding means the flexibility to view a subject from different angles.

    As you know, because you are a teacher, there is a distinction between "content knowledge," (like knowing the math) and "pedagogical content knowledge," (knowing what kids find difficult in a subject and the misconceptions they tend to have).

    Regardless of how much content knowledge a person has, pedagogical content knowledge is vital, which is why it is part of teacher training, with different issues addressed for a math teacher in training than for a reading teacher or an ESL teacher.

    Further, I think the idea of a negative correlation between expertise and empathy, or intelligence and empathy, is a myth.
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      Oct 16 2013: "there is a distinction between "content knowledge," (like knowing the math) and "pedagogical content knowledge," (knowing what kids find difficult in a subject and the misconceptions they tend to have)."

      To me, this statement is key in being able to educate without the "lording over" that may exist.

      Have you ever come in contact with someone whose knowledge base in their field was vast, and they found it difficult to converse with non-professionals? Although it is difficult to know what a person is thinking, sometimes there are clues when someone is struggling to 'dumb-down' information........some people just struggle to put things in layman's terms in order for the non-expert to understand.
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        Oct 16 2013: Oh, of course. This can happen at the university level. In k12, the more common problem, I think, is not knowing the content well enough to teach it effectively.
  • Oct 28 2013: In the words of Einstein, "If you cannot explain a topic simply, you don't understand it."

    More adages for thought: Knowledge is power, power is corrupting & absolute power is absolutely corrupting.
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      Oct 28 2013: Einstein's quote has come up several times in this conversation........I was saving his quote for my closing remarks.

      Thank you Darlington for your contribution. :)
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      Oct 28 2013: some people took it as: "if something can't be explained to me simply, it does not exist". and thus a whole sort of denialist was born.
      • Oct 28 2013: I believe that refers to the philosophical principal that the most simple answer is always the best.
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          Oct 28 2013: but it underlines that "simple" is a relative term. it does not mean as simple as individual X demands. this saying is often misused.
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        Oct 28 2013: Who Krisztian?.....who are the "some people" saying "if something can't be explained to me simply, it does not exist?"
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          Oct 28 2013: denialists.

          for example i say: there is no way that an airplane, a 150 ton metal beast can fly just because it has those tiny things on its sides. i mean, you gotta be kidding me.
      • Oct 28 2013: Relativists are just lazy armchair philosophers. there is an empirical truth in everything, whether the human mind has discovered it yet or not. The process of understanding can get pretty complicated, hence folks affinity to be relativistic- But I say that is BS- there is a truth and we're all out to seek it.

        For instance, the airplane example you used is not the most simple answer as it does not take into account propulsion or aerodynamics. Its a base assumption- and a base assumption is not "simple", its ill-informed.
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        Oct 28 2013: OK.......your example of a denialist is someone who is incredulous. I find people who are in denial are people that will continue to deny something, even after they have proof.....An incredulous person, once they see the proof, may very well start to believe.

        Quoting O'shea, Wiki has this to offer on denialism...... "It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event".

        Incredulity, whose synonym is disbelief, appears to be reversible. At least that is how I perceive it.

        I do see your point however in that you believe that denialism is a way to twist Einstein's quote. I just had never heard anyone twist it that way. The connection you made was new to me.
  • Oct 27 2013: With great knowledge comes great sorrow. Always has, always will. One can prepare as best one can though.
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      Oct 27 2013: "For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." - Ecclesiastes 1:18. I am not a person who should be called religious, but I believe there is truth to that quote. Now the question at hand is, what are we doing with the knowledge? We can either stand idle or act fast.
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        Oct 28 2013: It is true Chantal..........."the greater a person’s knowledge, the more keenly he realizes that in a short life span, it is impossible to correct things fully. Such awareness brings frustration to many"

        I think wise King Solomon, when you read that text in context, realized that having knowledge and understanding and wisdom in and of itself is not that comforting, because there are just so many things in the world that need correcting and one lifetime is not enough to do it all.

        But like you said, we have a choice............stand idle, or act fast..............

        Thank you for your thoughts.
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    Oct 26 2013: Personally, I believe it depends on the kind of knowledge you're acquiring and imparting. I used to teach Kindergarten and it was not a difficult task at all. On the other hand, I have a friend who is considered a genius( he used to be a consultant in NASA), is currently based inAsia but travels all over the world and doesn't seem to be content to all the things he has learned and learning yet he still longs to crave for more knowledge while neglecting the other aspects of life such as relationships and social life. i think knowledge has then become a curse for him.
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      Oct 28 2013: That is a fine example Dian.

      Thank you for sharing it with us.
  • Oct 24 2013: Is one stupid because one has no knowledge, or does one become stupid because one acquires knowledge.

    I argue people become less happy the more one learns.

    When I knew nothing, life was simple, less stressful, easier to cope. Now, the more I learn, the sadder I have become.

    The saddest people I have met, are in large part, the most knowledgable.

    Maybe knowledge is a curse..
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      Oct 24 2013: One definition I like regarding the term 'stupid' is "possessing the required knowledge but refusing to utilize it" such as we see today with people texting while driving despite all the efforts to point out how dangerous it is. Arrogance also has a lot to do with this attitude as well.

      But the above definition distinguishes stupidity from ignorance which simply refers to a lack of information or knowledge. .
      • Oct 24 2013: Good point about stupidity.....I guess, "ignorance is bliss"...
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      Oct 26 2013: "I argue people become less happy the more one learns."

      Is this regardless of what it is they learn? Any exceptions?
      • Oct 27 2013: I can't think of one exception..... perhaps.... "Love"
  • Oct 24 2013: Regarding knowledge is curse or gift , It depends whether you choose to live(life) for the knowledge or Knowledge for the living.
    Analogy of the subject with 80/20 rule.
    80 % of the have common understanding of the subject and 20% people are more and in-depth understanding of the subject, so if we are in 20% of the people we would have only 20% of the people to discuss. If we want to discuss the subject with 80% of the people then become one among them or just smile and be Hippocratic.
    if we are neither 20% nor 80% then it should be Eureka..Eureka..moment.. lol
    If we are on the 20% we should have gone through the 80% situation. so i Like Entropy Driven comment on this topic about not forgetting the root.
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      Oct 24 2013: I really liked your analogy, thank you, and also your statement "It depends whether you choose to live for knowledge, or have knowledge to live".
      Yes, Entropy's comment is right on the money.

      Abbas, may I ask you a question?

      When you say "just smile and be Hippocratic"......did you mean "hypocritical"?

      I hope you do not mind my question. I am hoping to help your knowledge of English.
      Correct me if I misunderstood you please. :)
      • Oct 24 2013: Yes , Its hypocritical. Sorry about my spelling mistake.
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          Oct 28 2013: No problem, we help each other around here.
  • Oct 21 2013: What Footprints about
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    Oct 20 2013: Dear Ms. M.
    I am writing on this day since the closing date posted on top of your conversation is today. Even though the length of the conversation is one week I am afraid I must miss the rest of your class. This is a VERY IMPORTANT topic. I hope I have contributed only the best of what I could contribute to your page. I threw in the two shiniest cents I had in my pocket:) Sitting in your "class" was a JOY:) I can hardly believe how much I learned!! You are a wonderful teacher with great energy. My respect and appreciation.
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      Oct 20 2013: You are always a student who is welcome in any class I host......I'm afraid I am not much of a teacher on here, but I do my best to engage others in conversation so that I might learn something new.
      I am always pleasantly surprised by the willingness of others to impart their knowledge. ♥
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        Oct 20 2013: For you,
        In celebration of her birthday today!
        Thank you:)
        Have a great Day.
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          Oct 21 2013: Thank you, what a lovely surprised.
          I did notice that even Google is paying homage to this lovely Cuban singer.

          You know, when she died, people said that her gift to the world was her kindness.
          Everyone loved her. She always wore a smile.
          She was known for shouting "AZUUUUUCAR"......"SUUUUUUGAR"......and time and again she reminded everyone how "SWEET" life can be depending on our attitude.

          She even wrote a song about life........How we need to LIVE life, and not sit around complaining about our lot in it........Carnaval (Life is a Party....Sing your way through life) In the video she opens speaking English....Enjoy!!!


          The second one, which is a dancing song, has a wonderful beat......
          and you'll be able to appreciate all the wigs and outfits she was known for....
          It goes on a loop.....so 30 to 40 seconds of viewing will give you an idea of her style.


          Have a beautiful week ♥
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          Oct 21 2013: @ Mary

          I don't know Celia Cruz, but I came to know a certain type of personality, which I call 'show people'. Those are loved by everyone too, as long no one gets to see behind their facade.

          The pure ones are those whose closest family members join the 'outside' view as well. :o)
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        Oct 29 2013: My core belief and value:

        The highest skill and finest art of teaching is to teach a student to speak, and in the process learn to listen and hear what the student has come here to say.

        See you
        ~ Juliette Zahn
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      Oct 28 2013: You might enjoy reading through the quotes I just typed at the top.......I tried to include as many insightful comments as possible. This turned out to be a wonderful conversation, because the TED members who participated were very generous with their contributions. Enjoy!!
  • Oct 20 2013: Knowledge is a curse when no one understands you. Perhaps mental institutions are filled with knowledgable people.