Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Educated guess

With my feet stretched out on the coffee table, I am inanely watching a quiz show. The contestants tend to say they will make an educated guess. What a strange expression this is. Generally what they really mean is that they have not the least idea.

I am always surprised, when I watch quizzes, at what people, including myself, know and don't know. And what I used to know, but which is either completely forgotten or is lurking in some deeply inaccessible part of my memory. Things which I regard as common knowledge lots of people have absolutely no knowlege of, and of things they know and which spring readily to their lips,  I do not have a clue. Sport, TV, films, pop music take up very little space in my mind.  I am quite good at gardening, plants, biography, geography, history, books, literature, art, craft and classical music. And politics and some legal matters. And I am quite good on electoral facts and systems. However technology, science, computers, tools, cars, following instructions about gadgets and such ilk don't take up effective brain space. Not just not enough space left, but my brain was evidently otherwise wired, and irrevocably so.

All this makes me wonder what people are learning in schools and the various institutions of learning. And whether it matters.

I suppose in lots of ways most of us enjoy trivia. And arcane knowledge, and lots about the practicalities of life. How to get from Point A to Point B. Which shops to recommend for certain things (such as wool, fabrics, food and drink), and who knows whom,  and who does what. It is really quite amazing when you think about it, the extent of and complexity both of what we need to know, and what we just know or pick up incidentally, through the ether.

I think my children  must  regard me as remarkably ignorant about all sorts of things, and they are not wrong. There is a lot of generational change around. Lots of knowledge wears out, it ceases to be useful or relevant. As we know more and more, in increasing detail, you would not want to hold onto information which turns out to be actually wrong. Perhaps learning, knowledge, resembles fairy dust. We remember past 'knowledge' and science, as how we managed to learn and understand, build upon, and overthrow and supersede.

Yet in other ways we do need to remember what people believed or reasoned, as we need to understand each other. And to understand  humanity, so that we can uphold our fundamental equality and uphold principles such as that slavery is evil, and women are not possessions. there is an urge to know more and to do better, and to overcome evils against humanity.


Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes. My partner is a television addict. One of the few shows I will watch with him is The Eggheads. Sport? I am a dismal failure. Film and television and music marginally better. But I am always amazed to find what I do know - and horrified about just how much I don't.

Frances said...

Quite a lot of people who I know don't like sport, and I suspect that it is not quite the national passion that we are led to believe. I wonder whether the media, (and government) overpromote it because it is (a) easy programming, page fillers (b) an opiate.

Gillie said...

Oh, EC, there is one of the Eggheads I can't STAND.....lol, stopped watching it during the UK idyll because the visiting teams never seemed to win.

Mm, I am with you on subjects I know nothing about, Persie.......quite good at geography, history , literature and odd random facts. Sport, nope!