The article on Bad Thinkers doesn’t apply to all conspiracy theories, but it does apply to most!
The question is, how do you separate the chaff from the wheat?
First, a little peaceful time with God’s word: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7
While researching the differences between information, fact, knowledge, understand and wisdom, I came across, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom” by Hugh Whelchel (August 12, 2013), retrieved from: https://tifwe.org/you-dont-know-what-you-dont-know-knowledge-understanding-and-wisdom/
At first glance, it seems that the authors of the Bible use the words “wisdom,” “knowledge,” and a third term, “understanding,” almost interchangeably. A closer examination shows a difference in the way the three terms are used. This difference is very important for our understanding of this third mental model of “wisdom and knowledge.”
Simply put, these gifts as they are called in the Bible are defined as:
• Knowledge – the facts (Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 18:15, Colossians 2:8, 1 Timothy 2:4).
• Understanding – ability to translate meaning from the facts (Psalm 119:130, Proverbs 3:5-7, 18:2, Philippians 1:9-10).
• Wisdom – knowing what to do next, given an understanding of the facts and circumstances (Ecclesiastes 8:1, James 3:17).
Those with knowledge are able to collect, remember, and access information. But, it is possible to have knowledge and lack understanding and wisdom. Someone might have the facts, but not know what they mean or what to do next.
Those with understanding are able to extract the meaning out of information. They “see through” the facts to the dynamics of what, how, and why. Understanding is a lens which brings the facts into crisp focus and produces principles.
Those with wisdom know which principle to apply in a given context. Understanding without wisdom can appear contradictory (Proverbs 26:4-5). For example, the statement, “He who hesitates is lost,” is true, but so is the idea that “haste makes waste.” Which principle to use depends on the context. Those with wisdom know what actions to take next. They do the right thing in the given situation. In contrast, there are many who have great knowledge and understanding but who consistently do the wrong thing.
I break things down a bit differently than Hugh, in part because of my training in Instructional Systems Development (ISD):
Opinion – everyone has one, no information required
Information – raw data
Facts – information that’s real; it should be independently verifiable
Knowledge – a proper framework in which facts can be stored, retrieved and used; your brain, books, videos, PowerPoint presentations…
Experience – the training of the brain that comes with the proper use of knowledge over time
Understanding – discernment of meaning, principles, and precepts from knowledge; reason
Wisdom – the lion’s share of the enchilada
Grace – that which transcends all understanding Let’s break these down even further, particularly with respect for separating the chaff from the wheat.
Peace – the often elusive epitome of our existence
Let’s explore these more deeply, shall we?
Opinion – I’m skipping opinions for obvious reasons.
Information isn’t knowledge. It’s just raw data. It’s often not even factual, as misinformation (unintentional) and disinformation (intentional) abound.
Fighting deceit requires you gather as much information as practical from REPUTABLE sources. Unless a blog article has compiled information from reputable sources, it doesn’t count. It’s opinion, not fact. Facts are objectively observed and repeatable. “It was hot, yesterday” is opinion. “It’s currently 67 deg F at the United States Air Force Academy” is fact. Crap like, “The government is using HAARP to control our weather” is sheer bunk, offal not even fit for fertilizer. “Everyone knows” HAARP is for communicating with angels… Yeah… About that bridge and swamp land that’s for sale…
Facts – independently verifiable and repeatable snippets of truth. They’re objectively real, not just “real to me.” They do not cease being facts merely because someone refuses to consider them, refutes them, or choses instead to latch on to some facts at the expense of other facts. Reality exists in the totality of facts. If you believe something which is disputed by one or more facts, your belief is in error, regardless of how difficult a pill that might be for you to swallow.
Knowledge – gather as much of it as you can, from REPUTABLE sources, such as acclaimed educational institutions. If information is the screw, knowledge is the means to use it, properly. Sure, you can use it to pick your teeth, but it’s so much more useful when you know (knowledge) how to fasten two pieces of wood together using a lap joint, glue, and two screws to firmely hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
Remember, however, the following, and take them to heart lest ye stumble from lacking!
“You don’t know what you don’t know.”
“Even otherwise bright and well-intentioned people believe all sorts of nonsense.”
“The problem with conspiracy theorists is not, as the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein argues, that they have little relevant information. The key to what they end up believing is how they interpret and respond to the vast quantities of relevant information at their disposal.”
Experience – comes with time spent actually working hard at something while pondering it deeply, figuring out different, sometimes better ways of doing things. Gain breadth of experience by doing lots of different things and doing them all well. Learn from the experts. Observe how many skills transfer to other fields of study. Become the expert. Over time, you’ll begin to develop ways of using seemingly unrelated knowledge in unique but effective ways not commonly (if at all) taught in educational institutions.
As the eight-time Hugo Award winning U.S. Naval Academy graduate and science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once noted, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
No one taught him how to design and build his own house. He LEARNED.
Unless you count the collarbone I broke in seventh grade (it more or less set itself), the only two things on that list I haven’t done is set a bone and die gallantly.
Understanding – the “Ah-ha!” component. You can learn to read music, play a musical instrument, accumulate experience
Wisdom – comes with time. It’s as much about knowing not to do something as it is knowing who, what, where, why, when and how to do it.
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Knowledge is but folly unless it is guided by grace.” – George Herbert
Grace comes only from God, through the Holy Spirit. Kids have it, scholars have it… It’s that which results in something different than all the opinion, information, fact, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom may suggest, yet it’s better.
Peace. Ah, peace. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
Peace is far more than the absence of war. Or is it? Aren’t we at war with others and with ourselves much of the time? Thoughts like, “Why is he believing that?” or “Why can’t I achieve this?” create both external and internal conflict, which, left unresolved, fester like an open wound. In time, conflict can result in loss of life, either from war, violence, or suicide.
Conflict in and of itself, however, isn’t bad. It’s the spur which gets us going — we were made by God to strive and overcome! God literally put in us to be conquerors. But of what? Other humans? Ourselves? Self-defeatism isn’t healthy, and neither is war, but we must absolutely be ready to respond swiftly to others when they go off the rails. God is in control of his creation. God made us in his image. As such, God wants us to be in control of our lives, with a healthy reliance on Him, but also making full use of all the information, facts, knowledge, experience, understanding, wisdom and grace at our disposal. Commensurate with such, we begin to understand what true, Godly peace is all about. It’s not an absence of conflict. It’s a settled resolve in the midst of conflict. “This is what I must do” becomes the simple statement of purpose for each moment in our lives. We wake up. It’s time to stretch, do calisthenics, weightlifting and cardio. Take a shower, Eat breakfast. Plan our day.
Peace is often determined by how we resolve conflict, which in turn determines the difference between whether that conflict and it’s resolution is healthy for us or bad. A healthy resolution leads to peace, even when the other party (possibly yourself) are being anything but peaceful about it. Many things in life are unpleasant: Diapering a baby, cleaning, mowing grass, taking out the garbage, unfriending either an abusive or harmful individual on Facebook, climbing that last set of stairs, using deadly force to stop an armed intruder, bombing the enemy preparing to launch an offensive that would wipe out your defenses… You do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s pleasant, or “peaceful,” which brings us to an ugly fact: The modern use of peace is significantly different than Biblical peace.
In the Bible, peace doesn’t come from “everyone getting along.” It comes from doing what’s right, what’s necessary, with as much grace as you can muster, in all wisdom and understand, based on the sum total of your experience, using the knowledge you worked hard to obtain, resting firm on the best and most complete facts available at the time, having sifted through the information, separating the chaff from the wheat.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.
Enjoy your day!