Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Knowledge, Understanding, And Wisdom

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Like growth and development, I’d say that most people tend to equate knowledge with understanding. Until relatively recently, I did too.

Via memorization, akin to “copying and pasting“, a person can be loaded with knowledge but devoid of understanding. Application of knowledge without understanding in an intellectually challenging endeavor like programming can, and does, lead to future messes for others to clean up.

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live. – Damian Conway

Wisdom, a close cousin of understanding, can also be orthogonal to knowledge. However, the gap between wisdom and understanding can be much greater than the gap ‘tween understanding and knowledge. Wisdom can be acquired over time, but profound wisdom only arrives on the wings of grace, unscheduled. How do I know this? I don’t. I just like to make stuff up.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. – Peter Kay

The rocket science financial dudes who literally engineered the global financial disaster have lots of knowledge and understanding in their area of “expertise”, but zero wisdom. Ditto, the eminently credentialed economic Nobel Laureates who championed the downfall of the LTCM hedge fund twelve, yes twelve, freakin’ years ago. It seems that their elegant equation set was devoid of any simple control variables that accounted for the risk of the Russian financial crisis that caused the fund to implode.

As long as people continue to unquestioningly and passively accept the word of narrowly focused knowledge experts with zero wisdom, the saying “history tends to repeats itself” won’t fade away, ever.

All I can say is, beware of geeks … bearing formulas. – Warren Buffet

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