Tell me something I don’t know

The problem with the internet and reading general popular science and economics books is that it makes you think you know a lot when you don’t. For a while, I pride on myself in friend circles for knowing a lot of things. Very random things. A trivia about movies or some popular fiction. Or factoids that I picked up from my reading of psychology and economics research pieces.

I picked up the habit of reading through lots of Wikipedia articles when I was uncovering the wonders of quantum mechanics and economics during the ages 15-18. During those years I’d think through my stance on a whole variety of issues in order to sound intelligent in my General Paper writing exams. I realised that when a 17-year old have views on social policies, economy, politics, the methods of scientific inquiry, it really impress people even when these stance are not well thought-through.

And so I guess I kind of hacked that; I systematically went through GP topics and think through the positions I’d take on various different issues. I then read a whole lot of current affairs materials and also the Wikipedia or Cliffs Notes equivalent materials in order to generate examples I could cite in my arguments. All that certainly paid off during exams but it took me longer to appreciate that all that was good only if it did not stifle my curiosity. Where it caused me to think I already know much, it actually causes me to shut out learning new things or deepening my knowledge.

That is also exactly the issue when we are learning just for exams or having our teachers teach to the tests. So are we bringing up people in our mass education to be too self-satisfied with what they already know?

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