Ignorance as Enemy of Knowledge

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking

…and yet, how often is ignorance really little more than the illusion of knowledge? We can quite easily  observe (very many) belief systems masquerading as factual, informed knowledge in all spheres of human life.

Scientific knowledge is a very special kind of belief system in that it always and already acknowledges and accepts as falsifiability the implicit possibility (and plausible inevitability!) that it is incorrect and subsequently adjusts its parameters and theories to align with new evidence and insights. In this sense, science embraces its own manifest and eventual ignorance as a source of continuous improvement.

The greatest ignorance of all is that which asserts complete, unquestionable and unwavering possession of truth. As Richard Feynman put it: “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” In the end, the most interesting and insightful questions are those that acknowledge truth – all truth – as interpreted facts and iterative waypoints on an endlessly-extensible shared human journey of discovery.

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