6.18.2011

Knowing What I Don’t Know



A flurry of travel has made life a little crazy of late, but it does have the nice benefit of giving me rare uninterrupted time to read. Nerd that I am, and conscious of traveling light (but too cheap and disinterested to buy an e-reader), my reading usually consists of reports I find online or have sent to me that I think are useful for me to skim through and be aware of. My interests run the gamut, from environmental sustainability to tax policy to macroeconomics to vacant land management, and so there is never a dearth of qualifying documents to read, just a dearth of time to get to them.

You would think that having large blocks of uninterrupted time to get through lots of these reports (for the record, two two-hour blocks to and from Kentucky, two two-hour blocks to and from Harrisburg, and two six-hour blocks to and from San Diego) would leave me feeling more confident in my knowledge base, for the sake of being more informed as a consultant, citizen, and muser. But you’d be wrong.

The more I learn, the more I realize just how much I have to learn. Far from feeling accomplished, I often leave long reading sessions feeling unaccomplished, for I am now more aware of just how many topics I know little about, and just how much there is to know in each of those topics that I have just brushed the surface of. If I am not careful, the whole exercise can leave me feeling quite insecure; after all, I’m paid to know things. At the very least, it is a sobering realization.

Nevertheless, it’s not a bad place to be. For however humbling it is, it is good to be thusly humbled. For knowledge can puff up. Better to know that there is much I don’t know. You know?

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