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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 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.
        • W T 100+

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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.
      • W T 100+

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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.
      • W T 100+

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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.
      • W T 100+

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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

      • W T 100+

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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)
      • W T 100+

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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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