Sunday, May 5, 2013

On knowledge

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Yoni Applebaum on knowledge:
I think Yoni Applebaum gave the best advice some years back:
Choose the things about which you genuinely care, and come to know them deeply and well. Form your own judgments, and constantly question them. In other matters, attempt instead to ascertain the consensus of expert judgment. It will be right far more often than not. The only alternative is to form your own judgment upon every question, and I can assure you that you will be correct far less frequently. 

 If you encounter an attack upon a conventional piety that troubles you, first assess its source. Has its author taken the time or trouble to know his subject deeply or well? Then, assess its content. Does it seem sophisticated and convincing? If it meets those two tests, ask yourself how much you care to know about the matter. You can always add it to the list of things you wish to know deeply. But if you feel that you simply don't have the time, because of the realities of your life, then bracket your concerns and set them aside. The regnant consensus will do.
Great advice. You simply can't know everything, and you can't always be right. But you can be honest and you can be brave.

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