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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Friday, August 26

The benefit of Ignorance and Knowledge

There is a very good article by David Deutsch presenting arguments for remaining ignorant of a subject until a person is really ready for it. I don't remember the specifics of the article beyond a single example. It was the idea that if you know how to read and you look at a word, like "cat", you can't help "reading" the word.

I think it shows how people tend to link ideas together with observations in a way that makes it literally impossible to make an observation without thinking of the particular idea.

I don't remember what he said the "problem" was with this was. I can make some guesses about it. If you're looking at it one way, you might miss a better way or a different way to look at it. For example, if you tried to read "cathy" and read 'cat' and 'hy', you'd have read it wrong.

Knowledge can be a barrier to further knowledge.

Even very young children, though, can learn to be more flexible about their observations, to delay drawing conclusions about how to read a particular set of letters, and to try different perspectives. If he listened while he said "cat" "hy", he might even notice that it sounds a bit like "cathy" and figure it out.

A child who is unaware that some sets of letters could represent different sounds and doesn't listen carefully might get stuck in learning how to read. The problem lies in those areas where one isn't aware that one has formed a "fixed" idea about an observation or in lacking the knowledge that there's more than one way to look at something.

The mere concept of different observational perspectives is a powerful bit of knowledge.

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