It’s Appalling How Little We Know

You go to the kitchen sink in the morning and turn on the faucet and water shoots out. What pushes it to your house? Can you say more than “the water processing plant”? Can you describe it intelligently? I can’t.

You sip coffee that probably floated across a pod of dolphins in the Atlantic a week ago while you were sleeping, and you browse social media at the table. How does that internet in your hand work? Can you describe it in detail? Could you break it down to an 8-year-old so they could understand? I can’t, and I’ve been using it for 20 years.

You drive to work in a car, and if you were pressed to do so you would be unable to teach me how the combustion engine works, how rubber is gathered for tires, or why exactly we need to change the oil every 3,000 miles. What does the oil even do?

Most trivial things like these can be studied and learned easily on the internet. While that’s awesome, it’s not really the point. The knowledge we hold in our heads at all times is minuscule. The top experts in the world hold only a little more knowledge in one specific field because they have devoted their lives to studying it.

All of this, and we constantly try to impress people and want to avoid looking stupid at all costs. But we’re all at least a little stupid! No one knows everything. 

The smartest people of all time hardly knew anything. They did prove it’s possible to learn a few incredible things. We can learn too, but never if we insist on that strange game of making impressions and saving face and acting like we know a lot.