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Knowledge Optimization

October 29, 2011

For the vast majority of my life, I have been ever-interested in the pursuit of knowledge, and especially knowledge that leads to understanding the nature of things, and the causal relationship between objects and concepts, and the identification and perception thereof. But all of the knowledge that I have acquired has so far proved to be mostly useless to me at the most fundamental level. The reason for this is remarkably simple: I lack in-depth knowledge of just about everything, and have ended up knowing just a little bit of everything.

So then, if my greatest pursuit up until now has been the acquisition and utilization of knowledge, then why has my knowledge become so consistently superficial? The reasons for this are of an equally base quality: it’s because up until now, superficial knowledge is all I needed to convince just about anyone of my expertise. I found it was easier to pretend to know what I was talking about, and bullshit my way through life, than to actually acquire a comprehensive knowledge of these topics so as to justify my opinions on the respective matters.

To further justify my actions, I reasoned that my “superficial” knowledge of things was still significantly greater than people who have gotten a bachelor’s degree in such areas; indeed, if the present generation of college students is to be our judge, a Bachelor’s degree is a comparably petty accomplishment, and roughly equates to a “certificate of common sense” in the field(s) to which such the degree applies.

If one were to compare an Economics BA graduate to Adam Smith, the founder of Economics, it would become abundantly clear that the graduate was, by comparison, still “wet behind the ears” in regards to economic theory. This is despite the fact that Adam Smith had no real resources by which to study economics (it did not even exist at the time), had no technology, no Internet, no advanced calculators– in 1776 (the year his first treatise on economics, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, was published), there really wasn’t much of anything to work off, save for philosophy, and his own mind.

The same comparisons can be drawn between Plato and modern philosophy, Archimedes and mathematics, Newton and calculus, St. Augustine and theology. Why is it that students in the modern day, despite having so much more resources at their disposal, are comparably so inferior to our educational predecessors, who had little else to work with except for their eyes to observe and their minds to think? I blame it on two things: laziness, and the immense amount of distraction that comes from an unmanageably enormous amount of data at our disposal, and a lack of proper academically-minded means to filter it all. But alas, I must digress.

The central point, as it applies to my own life, is that I need to stop being distracted by all these tidbits of superficial knowledge, and optimize my academic repertoire so as to have an in-depth knowledge of what I am already familiar with, so that I will know enough so that I can do more with my knowledge besides bullshit people. I already know that I can hold my own in conversations with Bachelor’s graduates, and keep Master’s graduates on their toes in the very field(s) that they majored in, but life isn’t a pissing contest or a ego-bashing party, and in the long run, this bullshitting is getting me nowhere.

I need to optimize my knowledge, by targeting what topics I want or need to know about most, and develop as in-depth of a knowledge of these topics as I reasonably can. I’ve learned far enough about the superficial aspects of things– it’s time to finally take the plunge and take what I know (and what I don’t know, but should!) seriously. No more will I be a jack-of-all-trades (master of none), it’s time to take on the full Monty of these topics: Mathematics, Computer Science, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, and Linguistics. A comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of each of these topics is, after all, prerequisite to the achievement of my long-term goals.

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