You Know You’re Right

You may know about lots of stuff. But the knowledge you imbibe does not come with a guarantee that it is correct. Mark Twain is quoted as quipping:

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

People are usually pretty sure of what they know. It’s a bit like believing that the detergent you use is the best. It’s the best because why would you use it if it weren’t the best. After all, your taste is impeccable.

But, as Twain warned us, it isn’t so much what we don’t know that gets us into trouble (although that happens frequently), it’s what we know for sure that just isn’t so.

Back in the days (not so long ago) when the controversy was brewing about whether the earth was flat or round, most people could muster evidence that their point of view (or perspective) was correct and the opposite point of view was wrong.  H.L. Mencken reminds us:

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

All problems are solvable by those who purport to have the knowledge to solve them, and that would be most people most of the time. We may have more solutions than problems, with certain perennial problems hanging around because our answers were wrong. We like to believe that our knowledge will permit us to see everything for what it is, and to understand everything. But this is just not the case.

What we know is minuscule compared to what we do not know.  It is better to know the questions that need asking than to know all of the answers.

-Lee Thayer, Thought-Leader