Let's just get over ourselves. So many of us truly believe that we know and understand the world around us, but so few of us give our knowledge a second thought. We are a society of trained monkeys, absorbing dogma as if it is all true; we neither have the time or inclination to seriously consider the spoon-fed pablum delivered to us through the media, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs. "We want To Believe" .... it's just easier than evoking any form of critical-thinking. For to question our beliefs and values, leads to the possibility of cognitive dissidence and all the anxiety associated with uncertainty.
In the words of Donald Rumsfeld (U.S. Secretary of Defense, 2001-2006) : "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." Donald did not know how true his words of equivocation, fabrication and evasiveness were when spoken about Iraq's WMD's to a dumbed-down population.
Data flies by us at breakneck speed. Since the advent of the internet, we have become a society of skimmers rather than readers. Who has the time to read for content when our mail in-box has 72 other messages, and watching YouTube videos is a lot more fun. But let's stop lying to ourselves, we don't know squat. We refuse to look at the past and learn from it.
Data, which is stimulating all of our senses - all of the time, all day, all night, even as we dream. But data only becomes knowledge when we focus our attention upon it. Unfortunately, most of the data we are exposed to everyday is primarily based upon opinions, usually some one else's opinion. It has it's origins through the filtering of newspaper editors, television executives, radio announcers, movie producers, the parish priest, politicians, spin-doctors, think-tanks, your neighbor and the lunch-time conversations at work.
Knowledge is no more than a collection of what you believe to be facts; gathered through observations, reading and hearsay, with no guarantee of validity . In example : "Barack Obama should not be president because he was born in a foreign country", is a typical Type I error. Since he would not show his official birth certificate, it is assumed to be true, but, this is a false-positive. Upon showing his certificate, other considerations take center-point-focus, such as, "show us your grades", questioning the facts that he graduated from Harvard. A Type II error may occur when he is accused of not being a Harvard graduate and tests, questioning his graduation, fail to prove otherwise, representing a false-positiv e, Obama is assumed to be a Harvard graduate, since no-one can prove otherwise. But you cannot not-not prove anything. Knowledge applies to any body of facts gathered by study, observation or experience, and is inferred.
From Knowledge we develop Understanding, a psychological process, also known as Intellection, which allows us to comprehend, to grasp, and make sense of our knowledge. We understand mathematics when we can demonstrate that 2+2=4. We believe, gather, take-in, notice and learn to expand our knowledge when we enter algebraic relationships and comprehend that Y=2 in the equation of Y+2=4. But, Rote memorization can present a false-positive of our understanding. When we realize that memorizing the abstract rules of simple-mathematics does not enable us to comprehend the mathematics of quantum physics, we realize that our understanding has limitations. Knowledge is the simple awareness of bits of information, while Understanding is the awareness of the connection between the bits of information. Understanding makes knowledge useful.
Curiosity and Wonder allows us to question our knowledge and understanding. These are the tools utilized by the human brain to clarify the muzzy; the hazy, fuzzy, foggy, blurred, bleary and the vague. Unless we employ critical-thinking to our knowledge and understanding, we live in a sub-conscious state of believing and accepting opinions as truth. Politicians, employers and corporations would prefer that the masses never reach this level of intelligence, and that we remain a country of subservient idiots. For if we should happen to give applied consideration to the dogma we are spoon fed, we would realize their artful, disingenuous actions, prevarications, evasiveness, fabrications, deceit, and their intent to transform people into obedient slaves. Many an employee has been dismissed because he asked management "why".
Today we find exerted efforts to privatize education; de-fund public education and create (and fund) a system of Charter Schools where the teaching of our youth will be more easily controlled by industry and religious zealots to produce subservient workers in the future. Their intention is to eliminate critical-thinking, produce students who will not engage in questioning authority, and accept Creationism over science and facts. They want to re-write textbooks, as in the state of Texas, so as to encourage acceptance of their agenda; eliminating historical facts and people of significance who worked so diligently to build a nation based on Egalitarianism, Equal Justice for all, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Human Rights, Freedom of Religion and the separation of Church and State. They would rather we not know the truth about our national history, our founders and science.
Wisdom is acquired through experience. Knowledge, turned to Understanding and questioned with critical-thinking, only becomes wisdom when understood through the lens of experience. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. Fool me a third time (and I have learned nothing through my experience); shame on the educational system !