With access to the internet the learning of simple facts is a waste of time and a waste of mental space too. Why learn the capitals of states or the names of the hundreds of countries of the world when these are easily found on one’s computer or cell phone? There are basic things to know, like there are capitals of states and there are political areas such as countries, and we do need to know some of these, but why should one learn more than a basic few examples of each category? Learn instead how the categories are arranged and how to find the details quickly when those facts are needed. Thus it seems a better use of one’s time and mind to learn the structures of things and the relationship between these higher level structures than to learn more than a modicum of the simple facts that form the structures.
What we then need to concentrate our always limited energies upon is identifying the structures that form patterns out of the details and to develop routines for doing these higher level activities quickly and automatically. We should learn thoroughly the subtleties of search strategies within our field and live with a librarian who can quickly guide us onto the right paths to special kinds of information. Also it is important to live and work in an élite institutional environment where colleagues are instantly available with answers to obscure questions. Those options are not always available but we should watch for them and cultivate them instead of always chasing after wispy subtleties of ideas already well understood by readily available people.
We need to cultivate our relationship with the other seven billion currently living people residing on Earth and the many others who have gone before us. There is no need to be constantly reinventing the axe or the axle or slipping them together to form a wheel when these things have been developed in many variations before us. Instead we should know the basic concepts and turn to specialists for the details when we need them. The idea is to have a clear view of what is needed, and that is where the concept of wisdom, where to find it and how to apply it, becomes paramount to what one should learn and know. Some call it common sense to an uncommon degree, but it can be learned just as other skills can be learned and developed. It requires focusing one’s attention on observing those things which work well, learning the underlying patterning of why these things are effective and then applying them judiciously. It is a question of where one places one’s attention.
Pay attention to the wisdom of what works and that is what you will learn.
[Update Why are white people so stupid?]