Confident Ignorance

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert… this or that.” 

― Charles Darwin


“The less people know, the more they think they know.”

– Frank Stewart

I am reminded of an actual discussion – debate, actually, that was devolving into an argument I didn’t want – I once had with a man many years senior to me – and the subject now eludes me – where I admitted I could be wrong, but suggested the possibility he could also be. But he angrily remained resolute in his belief that he was right. 

Just as out tempers threatened to run amuk, I noticed that there was a set of encyclopedias in a bookshelf in the room (we were in his house). I suggested we look it up, found our topic, and read aloud what it had to say. 

Damned if what I’d been telling him wasn’t a perfect paraphrase of the facts. When I’d finished reading it to him I just shut it and looked him in the eye. Without so much as a blink he merely asserted, “Well, you can’t believe what an encyclopedia says, everyone knows it’s the government that prints those things and the government always lies.” 

I kid you not.

At that, I blinked. All I could respond with was, “Then why do you have them in your house?”  I made some excuse and left.

Since that incident I’ve become more aware when talking to people, that those who are so adament about something, so positive, confident and assertive in their belief that they’re right, that they’re more often than not more than just a little wrong.

Regardless of the subject, I’ve discovered that the more ignorant confidently claim to be knowledgeable and the more knowledgeable confidently admit to ignorance.

And I am ignorant as to why that is.

But I can say with 100% confidence that I know that’s right.

– Bill


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