How do you know?

It is stunning how so many people in the world think what they believe is knowledge.  People have a tendency to believe alot of things, and with enough faith, people somehow transition from knowing what the believe is a belief, to thinking it is knowledge.  This may be indeed a byproduct of belief itself.  Once belief stands for such a long time, without self questioning and perhaps through confirmation bias this becomes the norm. Confirmation bias is the tendency to review, read, or surround yourself by things that only affirm what you want to believe, essentially staying away from contrary opinions, knowledge, or stances  Humanity is typically entrapped by this, conflating beliefs with knowledge is a dangerous at times, and ultimately an inept way to think.  This is not the way to conduct your life.

School does little to differentiate the importance of this subject.  It seems almost assumed that this little tidbit of discerning beliefs from knowledge, because it should be so obvious, yet the world runs amok with people thinking all sorts of things to be knowledge.  This creates their own version of reality that differs from everyone else’s.  With so many beliefs out there, its hard to even understand how people understand anything.  Yet if you understand the state of the world and why there are so many problems and disagreements, you can see that this is a key factor in why it is such.  The education system seems to need to focus more on this, because it is failing miserably for adults.  Yes, opinions can and ought to be shared, but opinions, or even remote probabilities are portrayed adamantly as knowledge, it creates havoc with those who disagree. Tempers flare, distortions arise, and the lying begins to attempt to save face.  All of this, because people truly don’t know how to think properly.  There is one thing that people should ponder, think about, until it becomes prevalent in there way of thinking:

Knowing when you do not know, is the root of wisdom.

From there, applying your knowledge, remembering that you may not know what you think to be true is true, questioning things, and you can go a long way in obtaining peace and understanding.  Often, most people experience grief by being confronted with something that flies in the face of what they thought they know.  Being just a little wise about your opinions, knowing when they are unknowns, can prepare you and propel you to brighter greater things, peace of mind, and ultimately happiness.

Believe it or not, there is a theory of knowledge, a subject called “epistemology”, within the realm of philosophy. Within epistemology, we learn that knowledge is indeed dynamic, flexible.  Knowledge is not necessarily truth, however it often is.  Philosophy, more broadly, is the foundation of all knowledge.  There’s a reason why all PHD’s are essentially Doctorates of the philosophy of (insert subject).  It is in everything, in everything we do, in everything we know, in everything we perceive, whether we realize it or not.  Extrapolating that philosophy, is what the greats have done, and refining it, is even what the greatest philosophers have done.  Of course, many philosophers may stray, go awry, but along the way, they bring great tidbits of enlightened thinking, that point to a path of understanding and wisdom, knowledge and the future.  A great philosophy that is highly respected, is the scientific method.  Yes, science itself, is built on a philosophy.  Science, and this philosophy of the scientific method, have become a critical aspect of the theory of knowledge (epistemology). Science, essentially, does not prove anything, it explains nature and our surroundings with the best data available.  Yes, science is self correcting, so the most recent understandings can easily be said to be a work in progress.  Yet all scientific knowledge is a work in progress. If something comes along that conflicts with say, the law of gravity, or any other commonly understood “facts” of science, there will be adaptations.  Yet it was knowledge and will be knowledge, even after adaptation to new data.  This is one aspect of the dynamic nature of knowledge… however, this is not what set itself apart from mere belief.

Belief, as I use the term, is thinking something is true, without knowing it is true.  While probability may lead us to belief, we must understand that there are levels of probability that will determine whether what we think is knowledge, or what we think is true.  Delving just a bit into epistemology can bring great understanding on knowing what knowledge is, and what discerns a belief.  There are some great resources for all available, simply, googling epistemology can help you on your path and journey to greater understanding of this universe and all you know.  But if that is too much of a studious undertaking, ask yourself and others, one question.  “How do you know?”  I say, ask that to yourself about things.  Thinking, about what you think, is half the battle.  Asking “How do you know?”, and knowing when you don’t know, will give you a leg up on a vast majority of the population.  This is the way to succeed, to put knowledge on your side and to gain perspective on all things.

It’s late here, so I’m sure this is a bit choppy and may need some editing as I rambled through this, I will be editing as I see errors or they are brought up to me.  Input or feed back on the flow of this post is much appreciated, as always.  Essentially, I see this as a rough draft, for something more meaningful, that can grab the average Joe by the mind and have him say “aha”.  Thank you, if you made it this far.  Til next time….


One thought on “How do you know?”

  1. I took the challenge and looked up Epistemology. I thought my head would explode. I need a bottle of wine and a lazy afternoon to go over it and try to absorb it all. Your post makes it much easier for me to understand the basics of the theory. As usual I agree with you on all points.

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