The Circle of Knowledge

Updated: Sep 4, 2020



Some years ago, a good friend gave me a lesson I’ll never forget. He drew a circle on a piece of paper and said, “The area within this circle represents all the knowledge you possess.” Then he pointed to its round circumference. “The outline of the circle represents the boundary between what you know and what you don’t know. The length of the boundary represents the amount of uncertainty in your life.” He drew a larger circle around the first circle. “When you learn more, your circle of knowledge gets bigger. But so does its circumference. One answered question creates more questions. More knowledge creates more uncertainty.” “There’s more,” he said. “As a circle gets larger, the length of its circumference grows at a rate over three times faster than its diameter. Meaning, your uncertainty will grow faster than your increase in knowledge. But this is a good thing," he said, "because it will motivate you to learn more.” “And there is a caution," he said. "If the shape of your knowledge isn’t round--if your knowledge isn't 'well-rounded'--then your uncertainty-to-knowledge ratio will be much larger than 3. You'll have more uncertainty than you would if your knowledge were more rounded, robust, complete, and less skewed.”



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