A Little Knowledge is Dangerous

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“Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.” – Michel de Montaigne

Human being tend to overestimate his own knowledge. He will often make small mistakes because of that. Nothing to worry. From time to time a huge and fatal mistake can happen. We see a lot of examples in our daily lives of people doing errors because of pure ignorance. Right off the bat, I can think about one of my brother’s co-worker. My brother was starting weightlifting few months ago. He did a great job and increased his squat to 200 pounds ass to grass after few months of work. The co-worker started to claim that he could do the same thing without any training. This guy doesn’t even do sports. He went to Crossfit once and that’s about it. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, yet he did ONE single Crossfit training. That’s a lot of knowledge. I can already see him attempting that squat and hurting himself badly.

You want another example? A friend of a friend was good boxer. I cannot deny it, he had a lot of skills. Fast, good punch and strong. He decided to make the transition to MMA. His first fight was knockout in 30 seconds. He went into his second fight thinking that he would totally destroy his opponent. For the sake of the show, he went for a fast takedown. Unfortunately for him, his opponent was great in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. I think you can guess what happened next. That was the end of his MMA career. Was it a problem of little information about is adversary? Maybe. Was it a problem of little knowledge of Mix Martial Art? Probably. Any proper MMA fighter will avoid the ground against someone with good skills in BJJ. He should have kept the fight on his feet where he had the most skills. He paid the price for his little knowledge.

Let’s head to personal finance. I see many people who start investment like they are seasoned Wall Street traders. You can see they know nothing we they talk about “playing”. That’s why they will lose thousands of dollars doing bad moves. You need proper skills and knowledge in the field. Thinking that you will make thousands of dollars when you start trading, is like thinking you will hit a home run the first time you play a baseball game. It’s possible, but in most case you’ll be strike out. I’ve stumbled on a surprising news a week ago. You know Jack Johnson? He’s a hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The guy earned 17 million dollars in is his career. Well…he filled for bankrupt last month. Bad investments and decisions lead to his downfall That is really crazy.

History is full of mistakes done by ignorance and we repeat the pattern. It’s like we never learn. In Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb write about medical harm in history. A lot of time, more harm was done by doing something than doing nothing. We see mistakes of not accepting new discovery because we think we already know everything. The first patient treated effectively with penicillin was during the 1880s, the second one during 1940s. It’s not different today. It’s most likely probable that some people are currently treated the wrong way.

Two wars you can remember were started with little knowledge. In Vietnam, United States had no clue what would happen there. They didn’t know that the communists would resist that much. Added to that, they didn’t have a good knowledge of the field, clearly not as much as the communists. More than 58 000 americans died over their. In Irak it was a bit different. United States won fast in 2003. But, they didn’t know that an asymmetric war would last for years. Knowing that before hand, maybe they could have prepare for it or simply avoid that war altogether.

The less we know something, the more we think we know it. The more we know something, the less we think we know it. Isn’t that a paradox?

Listening to: Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

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