The hidden factors that shape our knowledge.
We are quick to criticize someone who doesn’t know what we know. Sometimes we feel superior when we know something someone doesn’t know. There were moments when we express our frustration and let the other person who didn’t know X and Y, know how stupid they are. Instead of losing our patience or thinking this person is hopelessly dumb, we should step back and imagine that person’s life experience of gathering knowledge.
To illustrate how to gain a better perspective of the other person’s intellectual background, let’s imagine that there are two axes. The vertical axis is the available data, and the horizontal axis is time.
Depending on the context, data can be synonymous with information or knowledge. During our lifetime, we read, watch, and listen to data from media, books, people, and beyond. Most people experience a substantial amount and variety of data, while others have a specific amount. Every day we bump into new knowledge and either accept it, program its content into our thinking, or ignore it altogether.
To look at this diagram in another way, some of us experience more things, interact with a variety of other people and read more books. It doesn’t mean those more knowledgeable people did so by self-initiative. They were lucky by opportunity. They had access to more data: a public library, books, the internet, jobs, and schools. They traveled and interacted with people from different backgrounds and beliefs.
Yet, all the knowledge we acquire doesn’t mean we are better and more intelligent than others. Someone else may have knowledge or life experience that can be unique and different. We collect new ideas and expertise in business, school, or social events, but it’s not all at the same time or aligning with others. We process information differently from others, so we have a unique perspective on what we learn and how we see things. While we converse with others, we exchange our thoughts and views. These interactions can add, update, or correct your life experience of understanding.
We are grateful for how far we have gained in our knowledge and understanding of the world. However, this knowledge can only happen if we build upon previous learning — step upon step. It’s like sedimentation or making a large wall initially with small rocks. So, we start with small data, which over constant learning, grows like a mountain of knowledge. As a suggestion, let’s keep this in perspective with patience as we converse in person or online with our fellow humans. They are still adding to their knowledge and will eventually catch up.
Let’s stop being judgmental and assuming that some people are dumb. We could instead reflect on why some people lack some knowledge, and at the same time, we ought to be reflective and that we don’t have all the answers. There is knowledge out there that we are unaware of until we come upon it by choice or happenstance. Remember the above-mentioned diagram, where we experience available data every day during our lifetime, only if we are willing to stay curious and open to learning.