(Picture – NASA)
Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76 years. As a graduate student, when he was only 21 years old, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only 2-3 years to live. He went to live a very enriching life for another 55 years, a period in which his great works helped experts and the common man get a better understanding in the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity.
(Picture – Amazon)
His book, ‘A Brief History of Time – From the Big Bang to Black Holes‘, was a book for the masses where he outlined the basic aspects of the universe. This was one of the first books that I picked up in my brief effort to understand what ‘space’ was really about. It created an interest, which sustained over the years.
Stephen Hawking’s quote “The greatest enemy’s of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge” is probably, for me, what sums up his constant quest to unravel the mysteries that the cosmos presents.
We, too, should be relentless in our pursuit of Knowledge.
The literal meaning of Knowledge is ‘facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation’.
Knowledge is, thus, relative.
One’s grasp of knowledge on a particular subject may be more or less than another. It’s relative and it’s in this relativeness that major challenges happen. And this is something we see happening in our daily lives as well as all around us. Our differences, in matters big or small, come to the fore every other day, leading to challenges of consensus and a positive movement forward.
How can we then bring ourselves to pursue true knowledge or at least work towards a fair understanding of something so that we act knowledgable at the least ?
The process of becoming Knowledgeable –
- Starts with being Curious. The unknown has for long been something which people have been curious about. There has always been a need to understand the same, the mystery behind it and why it is what it is. We need to appreciate our current status – where we are and how much we know about something, even if it may be negligible. An awareness and acceptance of the current status is important before we begin our journey of discovering various aspects about anything. This allows us to pursue something with an open mind.
- It is then important to follow this up with the process of discovery, which starts when people start Asking, a process which leads to accumulation of data either directly or through secondary sources. More often than not, it is this process, which we shy away from or conduct partially. This leads to a situation where we either do not have information, forget whether it is correct or not, or half baked pieces which do not add up to present a complete picture.
- Data points are useless unless one tries to process or Analyse all the bits and pieces and string them into a coherent picture which allows one to use it in a meaningful way. The path to meaningfulness involves critical analysis of the data from all sides, a process which needs one to disassociate oneself from the data and look at it from the top as well as from all sides, incorporating any and all views. This allows one to keep one’s biases in check and not color the data with one hue only.
- Information that is then created needs Validation. This can be done by conducting various kinds of experiments to check the correctness of the hypothesis so formed. These experiments can take any shape and form, but it will be best to conduct them on a small scale, so that results can be known fast and quick. In case there are problems or failures, such such small experiments, can be iterated quickly to arrive at some conclusion and validation of the accumulated knowledge.
- Of what use is knowledge gathered if it is not shared for the betterment of society and it’s people. It is important then that the information which has been found to be correct be allowed to flow. Teaching is, therefore, an important part on the way to strengthening true knowledge. It allows for the cascading to people who are relatively less informed or less knowledgeable about the subject. It allows for dialogue, dissent and discussions. If conducted in a participative way, it can lead to enrichment for the listener and the conductor. It can lead to permanency for the individual teaching the subject.
- Another way to preserving the knowledge gained, is to Write all of it down. The act of writing forces one to think through before committing to ink. It makes one think through critically, as one is cognizant of the fact that future generations could be impacted due to it, for the better, hopefully.
Let’s therefore, whilst remembering Stephen Hawking, dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of true knowledge, for each day of our lives, helping to make this world a better place to live in and leave behind for our future generations.
What are your thoughts on how True Knowledge should be built up. It will be great to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter too.