Trying to be ignorant about different things than everyone else

Head stuck in sand

I think we need more diversity in our ignorance.  It seems that, outside what we work with, we all know and don’t know pretty much the same things.  Some know more than others, but they know more of the same things.  We’re creating huge blind spots that almost nobody pays attention to.

This is something I think a lot about.  I’m obsessed with what is happening or has happened that we’re not paying attention to, simply because it’s not part of what everyone thinks is relevant right now, is not on the Unofficial List of Relevant Things.

Part of the problem is that once something enters that list, anyone who wants to be knowledgeable feels obligated to pay attention to it.  And there’s so much on the list that you don’t have time for anything else.  So the more we try to become “knowledgeable”, the more homogenous we become.

There’s a Sherlock Holmes story where we learn that Holmes doesn’t know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, because that’s not the kind of fact he wants to fill his head with.  His psychology is unsound, because the brain doesn’t really run out of storage space, but he’s basically correct, because we do run out of the time it takes us to learn these facts.

So I’m rebelling against those shared blind spots.  And I can only do it by deliberately being ignorant about different things than everyone else, things many believe that everyone should know.  There’s no other path to true diversity.

2 Responses to Trying to be ignorant about different things than everyone else

  1. That’s a good point, although we knowledge workers become specialized automatically through our work. Some even become “profession idiots” with only limited connection to consensus reality. This may make it hard to feed any new discoveries back to the rest.

    But overall I agree: Your way of thinking is probably the future, if any. If we are to spot a black swan in the twilight, we need to look in all directions.

  2. Pingback: Chaos Node » Diversity of ignorance

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