Feb 18

You can't transplant knowledge into your brain, so how does it get there?

We're drowning in information these days, and all that data hasn't made us wiser. The world is still a mess with wars, pandemics and lots of unhappy people. Some more knowledge and wisdom would go a long way to find solutions for the worlds biggest problems, but you can't transplant those things. So how do you get more wise and knowledgeable?

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"We're drowning in information, yet starving for wisdom."
- E.O. Wilson
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Mr Wilson put it so eloquently: we're drowning in information. We read about nauseating numbers like 34GB of data that is loaded into the human brain on a daily basis and how 2,5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day and that this is only expanding.

All that information hasn't made us necessarily wiser: there are still wars, we still need 1.75 planets to support our current lifestyle and during the COVID 19 pandemic, the most informed and analyzed pandemic in human history depressions have sky rocketed - and we still aren't able to control the disease.

So more data doesn't equal more wisdom, it seems. How do we get there? Let's break it down.
It starts with data: these are the bare figures, the facts. It has no meaning, but is often a collection of numbers, words, but still meaningless without context or structure.

Data becomes information when the facts have taken on meaning, by organizing, analyzing and presenting the data in context. You give meaning to data by writing comprehensive texts, analyzing data, creating graphs, showing patterns.

Knowledge is of an even higher order and almost elusive: it originates in people's minds. People acquire knowledge by relating information to previous experiences, by understanding, applying, experimenting. Knowledge is information with meaning.

No, you can't transplant knowledge into your brain, but you create it yourself, using information, that is basically contextualized data.

So does acquiring knowledge lead to wisdom? Not necessarily. Wisdom is of a more philosophical order. It has a mystic quality, as it is not measurable in an IQ test and doesn't align well with our science and tech dominated society.

You become intelligent by knowing a lot, but being wise is not about knowing a lot of things. It can't be acquired or taught. It is not so much a skill as a way of seeing things and the ability to use all you know and experience in life to be an understanding, unbiased human, capable of compassion, and self-transcendence.
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