The more I read the less I know

Posted on August 22, 2007

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It really is starting to feel like that. I have been at the KLI for a bit over two months now and have read tonnes of material in a number of disciplines with the effect that I am now aware of a far greater range of approaches and understand them far better. But, with every text the horizon just moves further and further away so that, as a percentage of what I feel I ought to know, my actual amount of knowledge grows smaller and smaller.

Of course, this is not a phenomenon I have not encountered before, both personally and in stories from other people doing research. Indeed, one of the vital skills is knowing how to prioritise one’s reading as it is perfectly possible to keep reading and never actually put the ideas together into a coherent form, i.e to never actually write. On numerous occasions I have heard just this story told by friends of mine who were doing their PhDs or post-docs. And now it is my turn. I suppose that knowing that human rationality is inherently bounded and that research is necessarily cooperative ought to help but the thing is that one essentially gets greedy and would like to know more and more and more: the thing being that realising how we are coming to understand our own minds, and that one is in some way a part of that, is just plain exciting.

So, the more I read the less I know, and the more I like it.

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Posted in: postdoc, research, science