Knowledge and Intelligence 12/30/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

As I write this I’ve almost finished building my new home tower computer.  I built it from the ground up to fit my needs, which is not a gaming system.  I honestly don’t play a lot of computer games.  To me, there’s too much to understand about the world around us, and enough beauty and excitement for me to want to disappear into a game world.  But what I do need is a research computer.

I need a computer for quantum mechanical calculations.  These calculations can run for, quite literally, years on end.  I won’t do those types of calculations (they’re usually executed on national supercomputers), but I did have one calculation fail after a month and a half because my laptop where I was running it decided to update and reboot unexpectedly.  So what I need is a system capable of running continuously, with power to store massive amounts of data used during the calculation, and a fast processor speed to help shave maybe a few weeks off of the task.  Since it’s not a gaming system, I can cut corners on the graphic card, monitor, stuff that gamers are more interested in. 

So I ordered the computer box, power box, motherboard, solid state hard drive, memory, liquid cooling system, extra fans, everything I need to build the system from the ground up.  I can do this because I’ve been working with computers, inside and out, for around forty years now.  Technology looks a little bit different, but it hasn’t significantly changed in all of those years.  Installing the CPU (if it ever arrives in this winter storm) is just like the one I had to trade out when Intel admitted their Pentium processor was flawed and offered to send new ones for owners to swap out.  Installing memory is the same, although the newest memory cards look beefier than the old sticks.  It’s just the same.  I have the knowledge to put it together.  I’ve done all I can do without the CPU, so now my new computer is much like a typical man.  It’s all brawn but no brains. 

Cars are another matter.  I understand the theory of cars.  I know the components and how they all work.  But in practice, I have no experience at all, and lack the knowledge I need to work on them successfully.  I could probably figure out how to change oil or spark plugs, but you wouldn’t want me to work on your serpentine belt.  I should be able to do it, I have the information, but I’ve never actually worked on a car. 

Today, we’re in a society full of people with information, but the difference between them and myself is that I understand that I have information about cars, but not knowledge.  People can get all of the information that they want on most any topic, but that doesn’t mean that they have knowledge about it.  Look up how to perform surgery, and I’m sure you’ll get all of the information you want about it, and might even find surgery simulation games to try it out, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready for the operating room. 

Today, far too many people confuse “information” with “knowledge”.  Unfortunately, there are many people who want to prey on that and capitalize on it.  Today (as of the writing of this post), a major and disturbingly powerful conservative media outlet that laughingly calls itself “news” found several of its employees, including big name on-screen personalities, found themselves in court for a civil suit brought on by one of the major manufacturers of voting machines.  The lawsuit is claiming that defamation of their name cost a significant amount of money to the company, and they are suing for damages.  One of the biggest and most powerful front man from the “news” organization testified that, although he repeatedly promoted the claim of voter fraud, he never, even once, believe it to be true. 

People listening to his program were certain that they had knowledge about the election being rigged, but this testimony proves that the major source of their information was biased.  They had a political agenda and released false information to support the story line and frighten people into voting for the party that falsely claimed to have been slanted. 

When you study science, you learn to look at all of the information available from a variety of sources.  Some will be false (perhaps even all), but you think critically about it.  When I hear of holistic “healers” talking ill about modern medicine, I understand their frustration.  I understand the price gouging and medication too expensive to afford, and yet, these “healers” are wanting you to buy their products instead.  They want money, so they feed tainted and false information in the hopes that you’ll give them your money instead of the pharmaceutical companies, and while it may be less expensive than the name brand medications, it is not tested as thoroughly either.  This information is missing from their sales pitch, filled in with stories of anecdotal evidence instead.  Some natural healing techniques are indeed reasonable, and much of it simply promotes a healthy lifestyle, but this doesn’t help those afflicted with serious and often lethal medical conditions who would abandon modern medicine in favor of these holistic healers.  But armed with information, they’re certain that they have the knowledge necessary to make these switches.  It’s a frightening thing, and only getting worse.

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