Monday, May 18, 2020

"I'm Smarter Than The Experts!" Really?

Regarding this current issue of Americans thinking: "I'm smarter than the experts"...(check out the article, it's pretty interesting and enlightening).

First of all, allow me this. For the record? I do NOT think I'm smarter than experts. Question, but verify. Not disagree and denigrate.

I grew up thinking I was stupid. My step-father didn't much like me. ADD helped with that belief in just making life more difficult. I read a lot in getting "grounded" at home a lot and so I actually knew a lot. When I shared those things, most others had no clue what I was talking about and so to them, and they weren't reticent in sharing it with me, they just assumed I must be... if not just weird, then stupid. 

I've written about all this before. I've shared my past like this from time to time for the most part, for those others who are going through the same kind of thing. All in an attempt to give them hope. I never thought I'd amount to much of anything or make a decent living and I've done quite well. I'm not rich. But I'm not poor either and I have worked with some brilliant minds in IT and in general. I've met very interesting people. I've raised two amazing kids to adulthood. I've had a very interesting life. How could I ask for more? So yea, there is hope. Always. 

For those considering suicide? Remember this. You can always just walk away from your life and let that be your suicide. But you'll always be there you go to. So seek help. Help yourself. Never day die. Never give up. I know, superficial view of depression and suicide. Some cannot be helped and will die. Others however, can be, and will survive, if they just keep these things in mind.

It wasn't until my third year of university in working closely with my psychology department professors, with my primary department advisor, Dr. Rees, that I was convinced I was not stupid, but quite the opposite. It's hard to counter a lifetime of belief, proven in poor k-12 grades and life being more difficult than others around you. 

But I was getting a degree in psychology. And these guys were the experts.

I learned three very important things, evolved through three very necessary stages in my college career.

The first was that I learned in college was, "Damn this is hard, but kind of fun in a painful sort of way." I could "feel" my brain (mind) at times, literally (seemingly) stretching. It was hard to find time to assimilate it all att as the pace in college is fast, at university it's light speed. In case you do not know already, colleges have masters level professors, while universities have doctorate level professors.

The second thing I learned and evolved through in college was, "Damn, I know a LOT now and I'm learning more all the time!" But I kept that quiet until my third year, at university. I got a two year degree, then transferred to Western Washington University, in beautiful Bellingham, Washington.

However, once my university professors saw that kind of behavior in me, which they were quite used to from undergrads I'm sure, they smooshed it right down and put me in my place. Usually, it just took talking to them at THEIR LEVEL, not MINE, and in doing so, realizing that compared to them, damn, was I ignorant! 

Two year colleges tend to do their best to build you up, to be able to handle being at a four or more year university. While universities realize they have to continue to build you up, but also keep you in your place to be as rational and realistic as possible. Although, some colleges one wonders about that latter part, such as with the "Ivy League" schools. It's easy to become full of oneself. 

One has achieved a lot by graduation. so enjoy it. But at tomse point, and as soon as possible, do come back down to earth. Yes?

Ever hear someone say, "I wish I was as smart as I thought I was at 16?" There is a reason for that.

Thus the third and most important thing I learned and evolved through at university. Something most armchair quarterbacks or those who just think they are smarter than the experts, may never have the opportunity to achieve as they do not have a structured course, or professors watching out for them. That being that the more I learned, the more I realized the less I knew that I knew. The semi educated know they know more than they knew, that they may know ore than many others in their group, or bubble. 

However, if you do not ever realize as you gain knowledge that the more you know, the less you know in the ever expanding envelope of the greater knowledge of he universe, then you are setting yourself up, and others around you, for a good deal of misery. 

Or appearing vapid and ignorant to those who truly are more aware of the all the universe has to offer one, overall. That is part and parcel of what we are seeing now in so many who think the Internet, is in some way an education. It is not. It's is an increasing of awareness, without form or structure in education.

My appraisal at that time at university was that for every single thing I learned, there were four or more things I didn't know. I felt I was becoming dumber and dumber, not smarter and not necessarily wiser. And indeed in the face of all experience and knowledge, so it is. Past experience, incorporated with current knowledge, can offer one some form of wisdom. But it is not the same as achieving knowledge and then applying it to current experience.

Along with that, however (luckily) went the appropriate feeling of my being humble, and in working with my professors, of being humbled again and again, before their vast knowledge and that of the universe at large. And of those others who were true experts. Those I should show respect to, 

All of who are what Kate Bush is referring to in her song, "Them Heavy People." Oh, don't know who Kate Bush is? You've missed the amazing and genius then, but...her videos and documentaries are still available. 

Those who were not only more knowledgeable, but more importantly, wiser, and that is very important, do deserve our respect and at times, our great respect. Knowledge and experience can become wisdom. CAN...become. Too often, they are not. Thus the importance of higher education in a structured form and Socratic and didactic methods with those far wiser than you.

Earth may now have the most knowledgeable people in human history, but we do not have the wisest people to be sure. And that is part of the great problem we are now faced with.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

After I graduated university and went through the omnipresent and rather annoying graduate's period of "I know everything, let me share!" ....something not everyone "graduates" through and so remain an asshole the rest of their lives...I began to see in others less educated, a disrespect toward the educated and those far more knowledgeable. Even those far more educated than I would ever be.

And that truly puzzled me.

People I would feel honored to meet, to be among those types so much greater than myself in wisdom, while far too many seemed to feel bitterness or even anger toward them. Weird. Truly, really weird. Because being in their presence for a time can enhance who you are as a person and can alter your life going forward, making it easier, better, with more quality or even wealth. Which really in this context is the least of considerations. 

But surely, not to detract from it. I also always felt honored to share what I knew with others, and this is where some get caught up in thinking sharing, is about ego and it's not, and it shouldn't be. But a gift. Yet I was outwardly perplexed at how few were interested. Interesting in learning, in replacing lesser ideas with greater and more accurate ones. And for free. Without all the suffering and pain and effort I had to put into it all to finally achieve.

Seeing those wiser than oneself in a negative light merely puts one's own ignorance and ego on display for all those more knowledgeable than you. It can be seen like a beacon. When instead in seeking knowledge and sharing it, should make one appear brilliant both to oneself and to those less educated.

We have fallen down on this as a nation and a species. The Chinese in their "Cultural Revolution" for the People, actually murdered their elite thinkers, but luckily for them, only imprisoned some for many years. Some eventually brought back out when their communist nation remained their massive mistake. 

 All for feeling these educated people, doctors, scientists, historians, philosophers, were "elitist" (as opposed to being "elite" and an entirely different thing altogether), and not party of the common People. All which put China back by at least 50 years at the time. 

Just as America, in a way, in our own way, are doing to ourselves today. 

I suppose that is some of what annoys so many here and today. To feel looked down upon by those who consider themselves elitists. But too often that is a poor self esteem issue in oneself and hast utterly nothing to do with our elites whom we desperately need. IF you feel belittled in being ignorant, something I've always deemed as noble, everyone is after all, ignorant of something... then use the great inoculation against ignorance. Education. It's expensive? And why do you think that is the case? The ignorant are more easily manipulated and governed. 

Which America political party seems more against education, finding and supplying money to those institutions? Well, to be sure it is a complex subject. I did go to college in hope of better job prospects.

My older brother, after I got out of the USAF and had Vietnam Era VA benefits, seeing how down and out I was (I had lost my marriage, job, could not find a good job and that's why I went in part, into the Air Force, and I was floundering and on food stamps), tried to talk  me into college. He convinced me to think about it. 

When I graduated High School, K-12 as such a miserable academic experience, I swore to never go to school again. I took two weeks to think about it. I realized as much as I felt life, as much as it hurt emotionally at times, were I to become educated, I would find life even more in depth, I would understand everything better. I would feel greater pain in life. 

But I realized in the pro side of the pro/con list, I would also appreciate lief more, the quality of my life would be better. I would look at a picture, or film, or piece of music and have a greater appreciation of it. Or for human interaction. Or it would hurt more. 

In the end I decided the pros outweighed the cons and I started college. Never planing on more than a two year AA degree. But my girlfriend wanted a university degree. So I followed her. That was the catalyst. 

But then I was fully invested. My first college class toward an AA was Study Skills. I learned there is a way to learn in school. No one ever told me about that and so I suffered through K-12. None of us are taught that. But most of us make it through our "cookie cutter" 18th century style school systems Which has been changing to some degree of late. Having ADD just made it more difficult and yet, someone I graduated 12th grade. 

So in the end, I got a university degree. Something I'd never have though possible. Yet I did it. And others can do it. No, of course everyone doesn't need a college or university degree. Vocational schools are great things. It's really about what will make you happier, more fulfilled in life. It's not all about money! But we do have to make a living. We have to survive. But we don't have to be miserable all our lives, either. Sometimes only a little educate is all we need. For some of us we gleam that from living from day to day. But not all of us.

The important things is, remember that those who truly know more than us, should be listened to. Peer review is important. Picking out one "expert" because he agrees with you is foolish. Also ignoring the outlier can also be foolish. Confusing? Yes.

But that is why we need to educate and lean into knowledge, but ever more so...wisdom.

Yes there are indeed those who are bullies who lord it over others less educated, or poorer, or less advantaged. Many of those people however have psychological and personality issues have nothing whatsoever to do with wisdom. They give all others who are wise and would be helpful to us a bad name. 

Don't become sucked into that distraction. Too many of those bullies want you to hate all those smarter than you, merely so you will listen only to them. They can be hard to spot. But many times easy to see as those who claim they are the ONLY solution. ONLY they can save you. These are confidence hucksters, con men and women and do not trust them! Even though we have no elected on as President of the United States of America. But that too will pass. 

Still, that is no excuse for what we are seeing in America today.

Yet, there we are.

In America.

The future is ours. It is yours. Make of it what you will

Just remember, you are not alone. What you do affects us all.

For better or for worse. 

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