Monday, March 09, 2009

Better to Know Less?

This afternoon I saw @hrheingold tweet, "Neil Postman, 1990, "Informing Ourselves To Death" interesting reflection on monks' invention of clocks & impacts". I'd never heard of Neil Postman prior to that, but the article's title caught my eye. As I was reading it, I was reminded of my recent post on the role of chess databases, but I was actually reminded most of all of what a friend of mine said to me long, long ago.

There we were going about our usual business of chess on a sunny weekend, I think it was, when all of a sudden this friend, usually given to out-of-left-field philosophical observations, said: "You know, the more you know, the harder chess becomes".

Sometimes, I just can't help thinking that maybe he was right!


Chaos said...

Lasker would agree often stating that he spent most of his time as WC trying to UNLEARN all the random facts he knew. However, I would disagre... I would even cite actually evidence... look at our world today... particularly america where the stupid run everything and pretty much all there is is stupid people. The average USCF rating is below 700! Philosophy itself means friend of wisdom. The ancients defined wisdom as the search for and process of learning as much as you can. So the very definitions we live by day to day would be wrong to consider these thoughts correct. How would you even be able to have this discussion if you didn't already know enough knowledge debate its usefulness? As Socrates once said... "I found I was the smartest man alive not because I knew anything but because I was the only who was aware of how little he knew." I believe this is a more accurate take on the matter. There is too much knowledge for us ever to know everything. So the truth is being aware of how little we actually know and pursuing to know what is important. So perhaps if you feel this way about chess... the question is if you aren't pursuing the right hobby!

Anonymous said...

"particularly america where the stupid run everything and pretty much all there is is stupid people. The average USCF rating is below 700!"

Hmm. I'm assuming that you are basing your profundity on a pattern of behavior that you have observed regarding the people of the U.S.A. (?)

Though, wouldn't your statement also serve to discount your opinion simultaneously?

"You know that we are stupid, because you know that you know nothing?!"

Every genius is aware that the more we learn, the more we realize how little we actually know, to the point where we realize that we know nothing. At a higher level we include the universal constant of change. What we "Know" as being true today may not be considered true tomorrow. This is called progress, even; evolution.

Then there are those like yourself. The pseudo-intellectual, who make inflammatory comments and judgements, those who quote one of the world's great thinkers, though whom lack the language skills to intelligently articulate their point of view.

One might expect that your committed immersion into that deep sea of scholarly thought, would have resulted in your learning the language. How could an individual understand what they were being exposed to without a method of organizing and appreciating the true meaning of the ideas? This requires foremost, an intelligent frame of reference. Which by your statement, you clearly lack.

Well done Chaos!

Just another,
-Stupid American

Chaos said...

given that I am from the USA yes my bash kinda bashes me more than my country but as proofferred already... in the gem from Socrates. One can only be smart enough to realize they are stupid.

As for thinking I am just quoting such great intellectuals without understanding on this you are completely wrong my friend. I quote them because I believe they are right. I know full well as you said how little I know because i've learned enough to know the vast amount that is out there. I must have touched a severe nerve on you :)

As for your insults toward my language skills... on this you make a fool of yourself. I am a native english speaker. I have 10 years of latin, 4 years of greek in addition to my basic French skills. I am sorry my insults to our country do not sit well with you. However, they are my opinions.

So Mr. Anonymous you can take your own insults back with you now.

Chaos said...

On reflection of your post actually it occurs to me to point out two things.

One, I brought up America as evidence (like or not it is). I live in the country so the insults to my own country are also insults to me. But the evidence was more to point out the fact in jest, you keep pointing dumb people in charge and wonder why you get bad results?

Two, I realize the insults riled up your poor rant with the returned insults. However, it brings up an old point often taught to beginning debaters. With all due respect, one personal attacks begin one is sure to have realized they have no points to bring to the table. They simply object to those that have already been stated but have no counter point to offer. For sure this is where your post lies. However, the reason I will give benefit of the doubt is not due to any lack of intelligence but your inability to control your anger.

I recommend not letting your blood boil over a negative comment on a chess blog... if that happens you might want to just stop reading chess blogs because there are more naysayers then you can wave a stick at. Your comments entirely eclipse the very legitimate point I brought up in my original post.