What the heck do I know?

This has to be a bridge or threshold that all academics/scholars have to cross at some point.  Seems I just keep traversing it over and over and over again.

Back in the Bush days I used to watch West Wing on repeat - think of it as a relief, a fantasyland of sorts, that let me believe Bush really wasn't President.  Sam, the Deputy Communications Manager played by Rob Lowe before he bailed, had to step in for Josh, the Deputy Chief of Staff, at the beginning of the fourth season.  This meant being "in the room" with the President all day long and having to be - literally and figuratively - on your feet at all times.  At the close of one of the meetings Sam is walking back to his office and talking to his secretary and he turns to her after asking for at least three or four reports and says, "Do we have any sort of document that, well, summarizes all of human knowledge in it?"  That's kind of how I feel.

There are so many fractions and shards of knowing in and between academic subjects, departments, and disciplines - and no one (really) talks to anybody else.  Every once in awhile there is a glimmer of hope and a plateau of sorts where you think, "Ah, now I've got a handle on x" ... And then you realized you haven't looked at it from fill-in-the-blank angle.  Grrr.

It's times like these when I like to get out a handle little diagram I have from some training years back.



I believe a Legend is in order.

KK = What I know that I know
DK = What I know I don't know (and this is quite a lot)
DKDK = What I don't know that I don't know

Of course, this chart is misleading as it assumes that what I don't know that I don't know is actually bounded by something - but it does the trick to humble me a bit and put things into perspective.

Isn't there a quote about being smart means you know what you don't know?

I must be a genius.

Comments

  1. "Of course, this chart is misleading as it assumes that what I don’t know that I don’t know is actually bounded by something – but it does the trick to humble me a bit and put things into perspective"

    My sentiments exactly I have used this thought for years and understand that each side is actually infinite ... well maybe but because the human mind can't comprehend such concept this visualization just brings it home!

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