Other Alternate Realities

Knowledge and Understanding - two sides of the same coin

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Knowledge and understanding are not two separate things they are one thing. For knowledge to be knowledge, you must understand it. Otherwise it is simply a collection of data sometimes called facts. (Is something a fact if you do not understand it?)

Knowledge does not exist in a vacuum. You acquire data, facts if you will, and then integrate them into your own reality. Once integrated, these bits of information become knowledge and from this added knowledge you should be able to increase your understanding.

The problem comes in the structure of the reality of the individual who is acquiring the information. Their reality bends and distorts this data to fit in with what they already believe. If the data does not fit, no matter how much it is distorted, it is discarded.

The first time I became aware of this was in the fifth grade. I remember the epiphany though I cannot recall the actual subject of discussion. Basically, a fellow classmate and I had seen something on television the night before. I think it was a news program but I am not certain. Anyway, we talked about it and I listened to what he had to say and came to a startling conclusion. What he said clearly told me that he had watched the same program and heard the same words I had heard. His conclusions however, were entirely the opposite of mine. I remember thinking at the time: “His brain must not work the same as mine or he would not have come to different a conclusion.” I may have improved the English here but that is really the essence of what I thought.

Today I realize that it was his reality that drove him to a different conclusion. My thought was essentially correct. His own reality distorted his reasoning process and he interpreted what we both had heard in a completely different. I now understand the process better and will either work with the person to obtain a better understanding or leave the vicinity immediately to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

In humans, we have the ability to gain knowledge and understanding by building on our existing knowledge by comparing it to newly acquired data or facts. If we can integrate the new information into our existing knowledge base, then it becomes new knowledge. If not, we have two choices. The first is to reject it which is the instinctive approach. However, if we value learning above protecting our own reality, we will examine this new data and seek to understand it.

Once we have made the determination that this new data is valid and does not fit with our preconceived understanding, we must by definition alter our own reality to accommodate this new information or, as is almost always done, reject the information out of fear.

I have two precepts on knowledge and understanding:

  1.  You have to know a lot, an incredible amount, an “Encyclopedia Galactica” amount before you finally realize that you know almost nothing.
  2.  The corollary of that statement is that the more someone insists the KNOW something, usually in an excited and loud manner that begins: “Well I KNOW…” the less likely it is that they know anything at all.
  3. It is possible that people can know less than nothing. This is true when what you think you know is incorrect.

Science vs. Religion

Perhaps the most significant difference between religion and science is that in science, we go wherever the facts lead us. In religion you reject anything that does not fit your paradigm.

Science is not perfect and relies all too much on those who practice it. Much of the time those who identify themselves as scientists try to inject religion into their science. Even Albert Einstein did this. In fact, he spent most of his life trying to disprove his own theories because he believed that "God does not play dice with the universe." He died, literally" with his unfinished "proofs" in his deathbed because of his religious beliefs. Just because you are genius does not make you infallible.

Other notable efforts to mix science and religion include the Pythagorians and in more recent days Scientology and "Intelligent Design" which has been proved in court to be nothing more than creationism repackaged.

Our epistemology if you will…

This page was last modified:      Saturday, November 02, 2013 at 1:37:10 PM