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Ignorance is truly bliss

  1. Mar 19, 2010 #1
    Now that I am fully immersed in my college education I have finally realized that the more I learn the less I seem I know. I always thought it was an old saying but nothing like hitting the "reality" wall to truly open your eyes. Presently, I find myself 4-5 hrs in a library hunched over a book, writing, and thinking. This situation is like a drug.

    Sometimes it makes me wish I was dumb and happy; luckily, it's just a fleeting thought. The only conclusion I can draw from this situation is that it is impossible to learn everything yet you can't stop trying to learn everything.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2010 #2
  4. Mar 19, 2010 #3
    Thank you! The day I came upon that, I went to McDonald's and ordered a double quarter-pounder, supersize Coke and fries, 2 apple pies, and some nuggets. For a short time, I felt just as happy as the people that eat that food every single day and don't know how unhealthy it is. :rofl:
  5. Mar 19, 2010 #4
    Dunning-Krueger effect, go look it up, fascinating thing.

    Happiness is overrate I'd say by the way.
  6. Mar 19, 2010 #5
    that's like when working through a single section (or even just a problem) in a book, only to find that there are whole other books covering that same stuff in way more detail
  7. Mar 19, 2010 #6


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    You know, they say the more you learn, the less you seem to know... but think about it, people who are ignorant don't know ANYTHING! They don't even know that they know nothing!. While you on the other hand do infact know something... even if it means you know the scale of how little you know :)
  8. Mar 19, 2010 #7
    The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to learn. A lot of people who think they have a good grasp on what's going on just don't have any idea of the volume of information that's even out there.
    I know I can't learn everything, I just want to become smart enough to be aware of most of the stuff I don't know
    Well you have the meat for your protein, the bread (wheat), lettuce and pickles for your vegetables, cheese for your dairy and apple for your fruit. That's the four food groups. If you got a diet coke, that would have been a perfectly healthy meal.

    I haven't been to McDonalds in years. I'd rather go to a feeding trough for livestock, if there's really even a difference between the two.
  9. Mar 19, 2010 #8


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    An American dream come true for one person is a nightmare for those around him.
  10. Mar 19, 2010 #9
    And a healthy week's supply of salt.
  11. Mar 19, 2010 #10
    Point is that (most) people aren't capable of feeling a 'void of knowledge', and subconsciously fill in that which they don't know with some thing they made up.

    I mean, say you're in a room, say there's a wall, say there's a room behind it you never saw, I ask you 'what's behind this wall?', you may say 'Don't know?', but as soon as I have reminded you of the existence of a space behind it, you still subconsciously fill it in, you imagine some kind of room behind it. Which will undoubtedly be very far from the truth. The human mind just isn't capable of experiencing a void of knowledge, it fills it with extrapolations which are often further from the truth than just 'nothing'.

    I mean, even if I type this, your mind will probably try to construct some kind of 'image' about who I am right? My guess it's around this: male, 18-25 years old, white, blonde, short hair, as soon as I type the word 'education' here you not only wonder, but also at some level fill in what I have studied until you see an example to the contrary right? The mind doesn't leave blank what it doesn't know, it fills it up, often with completely incorrect information.
  12. Mar 19, 2010 #11
    That's weird. What does it feel like to not know something?
  13. Mar 19, 2010 #12
    Is this one directed at me?
  14. Mar 19, 2010 #13


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    To add insult to injury, we not only don't know a lot of things, we tend to forget the things we've learned. The forgetting curve is truly the biggest disappointment as far as being human goes. You can't really run fast, you can't really kill most animals with your bare hands, but sure enough you are guaranteed to forget most of the things you learn, eventually. Born to die, study to forget, work to retire, it is all very zen.
  15. Mar 19, 2010 #14
    No, I knew the answer to life, the universe, and everything when I was born.
  16. Mar 19, 2010 #15
    This is where I stop from following you.
  17. Mar 19, 2010 #16
    it really is quite amazing. knowledge breeds humility.

    i've never really thought of that, but that's awesome and shocking at the same time.
  18. Mar 20, 2010 #17
    Some people know that they don't know alot. But it doesn't make a huge impact or revalationary feeling to consider something. As of right now you feel enlightened but maybe in 5 years you will get a PhD and feel the same feeling at a greater degree. Its all relative.
  19. Mar 20, 2010 #18
    I find this even more interesting:

    Code (Text):

    / \
    See that that simple character there?

    She is called Ngkonge, she lives in Gandia, is eleven years old, in a long term relationship, with another woman, she also misses an eye.

    What if I told you this:

    He's called John, 25 years old, he lives in California, single man, is trying to find a girlfriend though, perfect health.

    My guess is that in the first story you flinched a couple of times. You expected a man, didn't you? You expected an adult, you expected a westerner, you expected a single person, you expected a straight person and a healthy person didn't you?

    Wherever I go, I notice:

    You have to tell people that you're black/asian/indian/whatever, they will assume you're white if you don't tell them, no one ever tells any one they're white.

    You have to identify as a female on line, people will assume you're male unless your nickname is reaaallly feminine.

    You have to tell people you're occupied, people always assume you're single until you say you're occupied.

    Same for all the other things.

    Not only are people not capable of leaving these things open, they also have a more or less similar concept of 'neutral', see this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TertiarySexualCharacteristics

    If you draw a comic and give it no features, people assume it's a white adult guy, you have to explicitly draw childlike, or feminine or racial features to sway them away. Look at xkcd, the males are featureless, the girls have feminine hairdo. And all people assume both to be white is my hunch, also look at this:


    An Asian as drawn by an Asian animation company:


    An Asian as drawn by a western animation company.

    In fact, if I didn't tell you, you probably assume the girl from spirited away to be intended as a westerner. She's not, she's not intended as any thing, she's intended as 'a girl', which in the mind of a Japanese person defaults to Asian, just as it defaults to European in the west, because the European race is dominant in the west.


    A European girl as envisioned by an Asian, stereotype, nay?

    Donald Duck has no gender characteristics whatsoever, Daisy is basically Donald + eyelashes + bow + skirt + high heals + overtly stereotype feminine pose.

    Filthy thing eh? that human mind.
  20. Mar 20, 2010 #19
    Were you just illustrating the meaning of this thread's title for us? :wink:
  21. Mar 20, 2010 #20
    Yes, of course, it stands to reason that people living in a country where the majority of people share physical characteristics, it's fair that they assume people they encounter -- who they cannot see or hear -- fall into the majority unless expressly told otherwise. I'm failing to see the significance of that, be the people in question living in Japan, North America, Europe, or Africa. Although, if I'm frequenting a message board that originates out of, and is hosted by someone out of the UK, I'm going to assume that the majority of posters are from the UK and not North America.

    I have a question for you, Kajahtava. Why do you suppose that Asian cartoonists drawing Asian characters represent those characters as having eyes with a more rounded appearance like Caucasian eyes?
  22. Mar 20, 2010 #21
    My point wasn't as much that, as what I'm getting at below:
    Because that's how Japanese eyes look?

    Get a drawer to it, if you measure Asian eyes and European eyes, they are almost the same hight. My point was thus that that neutral height is perceived as normal, thus Asian, by Asians, and as normal, thus European, by Europeans.

    For a European to perceive eyes as Asian in a cartoon (which omits detail), it has to be ridiculously small, likewise, for an Asian for eyes to be perceived as European, they have to be ridiculously huge.

    What however in the end for the most I find interesting, is that people aren't able when they see a stick figure to just mentally for themselves have a blank person in mind with nothing filled in yet. The mind can't fill things in with void, it has to fill all things in.

    In fact, I think it's a symptom of a bigger problem I think, and it leaks into SCIENCE.

    All right, they used to think that an object falls with a speed proportionally to its mass, right? Of course, it's easy to see that this is not true, and in fact, a lot of people tested it, and saw that it wasn't true, but also couldn't find the formula that did apply, until some one came up with the awesome idea of air friction and acceleration.

    Now, the people that said it wasn't true were pretty much ignored until some one came with an a new and better formula that could replace it. People will rather believe a thing that is just trivial to show to be false, than believing nothing at all on the subject. As soon as they think of a quaestion, they have to have some answer to it, at least subconsciously, and they will sooner have an answer that is so obviously and easily false, than no answer at all and just mentally and subconsciously have an 'I don't know?' there.

    I mean, see the psychiatry discussion, it's the same thing I suspect, psychiatry is obviously a very dubious practice with inconclusive backing and no hard proof to its effect and theories. But there is currently nothing that can replace it, as soon as some one comes with a scientific materialistic grounding that can solve mental problems, people will admit instantly that psychiatry was just a myth. People practised leaches before, people did exorcisms to cure the insane? Even though it's so simple to test if it works or not. But there was no solution to those cholera at that time, and people will rather believe in a lie like leaches solving it, than just admit to themselves that they simply don't have a clue how to solve it. In some cases, doing nothing at all works better than doing a counter-effective thing like draining people of blood when they need their oxygen the most. People defended Newton's infinitesimal, even though it's easy to see it's a self-contradicting concept, and Berkley's correct criticism on it was ignored, until some one had the splendid idea of the limit, and only then did people begin to admit that the infinitesimal indeed was a bit shaky.

    I really don't think people are out to find truth, people are out to find some thing that can fill the void of ignorance, and if truth is not around, a lie will suffice in favour of nothing at all.
  23. Mar 20, 2010 #22
    This effect is brought about by the specialization process. It's not that you know less, it's that you know more and more about less and less. By the time you graduate, you will know everything about nothing.
  24. Mar 20, 2010 #23
  25. Mar 20, 2010 #24
    Then what makes Asian eyes look different from Europeans? Are we just imagining there's a difference?
    That's a caricature.
    Are you saying that if an Asian person sees a cartoon character, they'll perceive that character as Asian and if a European sees it, they'll perceive it as European? What if a black person sees it? Will they ignore the skin color and see it as a black person?
    Is this your theory? Because when I see a stick figure, I don't fill anything in. I see the stick figure for what it is; a stick figure.
  26. Mar 20, 2010 #25
    "If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren't There More Happy People?"
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