Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I know that I know nothing

"I know nothing, I hear nothing, I see nothing." --Sergeant Schultz, Hogan Heroes
Knowing that you know nothing is attributed to Socrates by Plato, but no one seems to know if that is true or not. Which kind of confirms the premise that no one knows anything. So does the Internet and Fox News.

It is one of the ironies of aging (along with hair growth in random places) that experience finally teaches you that you know nothing. I have, in fact, become an expert at knowing nothing. I can now state with confidence when asked most questions that I haven't got a clue. I take comfort now in my lack of knowing. When someone asks me for directions, I can  respond, "I don't know," instead of pointing and gesturing and conjecturing and sending the person off to god knows where because I don't want to admit to not knowing.

It amazes me how much is actually written with great conviction by people who really don't know that they know nothing. Most major (and minor) magazines are chock full of articles written by people trained to write about things they know nothing about. Prevention Magazine is a perfect example. It is chock full of articles about losing weight or improving your health without doing anything. But I challenge anyone to read any of the articles and glean a single, concrete piece of useful or valid information out of them. Because the authors, who know nothing, are writing the articles after interviewing people who think they know something when in reality they know nothing (most doctors fall into this category). So we end up with an authoritative article about nothing.

How do I know this? Because I have a Journalism degree and was trained to write about nothing in an objective and authoritative fashion when printed newspapers still existed and people still believed that, if it was in print, it had to be true. Of course print Journalism has all but been replaced by digital Journalism. And everyone thinks that if it is on the Internet, it has to be true. But they know nothing but don't know they know nothing. I, on the other hand know that I know nothing and that most, if not all things on the Internet are brain farts.

So what is so important about knowing that you know nothing? I think it has to do with not being able to pour water into a full glass or some other philosophical gibberish like that. Because if you think you know something, you aren't open to the concept that the something you think you know isn't the right something or the only something. But if you know nothing and something comes along, you are at least open to consider it even though it is most likely nothing. Because there is nothing like it.

How can I write so much about nothing, you ask? There is nothing to it. I had nothing to write about.


The random ramblings of a magpie mind said...

I constantly admit to not knowing...... It's the only way to get my students to realise that no one knows everything, and they need to develop their research skills..... This week we all learned that the giraffe does have vocal cords but isn't very vocal... Who knew!! .... And that sprang from a mad song they like to sing... Ah the joys of 6 yr olds :)

Helen Baggott said...

"How can I write so much about nothing, you ask? There is nothing to it. I had nothing to write about."

Hmmm. And yet I now know about giraffes not being vocal.

Knowledge is indeed nothing.

Time said...

Having watched all of the Madagascar movies several times, it comes as a greater surprise to me that giraffes aren't very vocal. But I imagine it comes down to them not seeing eye to eye with many.

The random ramblings of a magpie mind said...

.....well courting males make loud coughs.... Perhaps to clear their throats before whispering sweet nothings? ( as I have it on good authority that some of their sounds are not easily heard by we humans) I do know for sure that they have black tongues.... Having fed the odd giraffe at the zoo ... Ah what a life I lead ;)