To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything, or nothing, about it. Olin Miller
Certainty implies that there is confidence about the facts and this is possible only when a person is an expert who knows the subject matter thoroughly. However in life we come across plenty of people who will pontificate with authority on varied topics particularly relating to matters that have universal appeal but very peripheral personal expertise. Politics, Sports, local governance, corruption, pollution, population etc. provide ample scope for pseudo thinkers to exercise their liberal thoughts on anyone who can be wooed as an audience.
When we find ourselves in a situation where we have to endure the company of others for long, the natural outcome is engaging in a conversation. This setting provides the fodder for participants to be overtly creative, sadistically depreciating and liberally argumentative; after all at the end of the day we are neither too wise about the matter nor too concerned and in running down the system and the governance we have derived pleasure and believe we have enlightened the audience. How often have we checked the credentials of people making very strong and radically statements or checked out their own adherence to their own view point. If you ask yourself about your views on bribes you would want the system to take stringent action in the matter but in the same breath we would not hesitate to give a bribe if things get speeded up. Most times we speak from an idealistic view point and not from the view point of expertise or practicality.
On the other hand when we are in the presence of an expert, we would get to know the subtle nuances of the subject and get rare insights based on the expertise of the person propounding the views. The next time you visit a specialist doctor observe his/ her style, content and advice. You will certainly comeback with a lot more knowledge, confidence and assurance. If you then share your experience with some lay people be it family members, friends or colleagues, more often than not they will contribute with their views mainly based on hearsay and peppered with personal bias. Observe your own reactions to these interactions; how keenly are you listening, how often are you mentally refuting the observations, do you display irritation and boredom etc.
As they say it takes all sorts to make up this world. So the experts and the ignorant all have their place under their sun and we cannot forget that at various times we also don both hats.
Remember: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” Francis Bacon, Sr
- The next time you are with friends at a social event, pay close attention to the conversation going around. Pay attention to the people talking with passion and possible angst. How much of their contribution is meaningful, intelligent and relevant. How do they retort to those who drastically differ with their views?
- Choose 3 topics of your personal interest. Now try to identify 3 experts on each of those topics that you have heard of. Can you name at least 2 books or 2 videos that you can recommend to others interested in these topics?
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