In uncertain times how we use information is vital.
“One of the great challenges in this world is knowing enough about a subject to think you’re right, but not enough about a subject to know you’re wrong.”
I wish I’d said that, but I didn’t. It’s from the esteemed astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson. It’s a profoundly powerful statement. So much so that most of us probably have to run it back through our heads a few times to extract the full meaning. I know I did.
The quote is just one of many resonating comments from Tyson’s MasterClass on Scientific Thinking and Communication. There are so many thought-provoking pearls of wisdom that even after watching the 2 minutes and 41 second promo you feel like you’ve downloaded a combined degree in psychology, theology, astrophysics and computer science – and achieved a first. Watch the whole course and...wow!
Turning knowledge into wisdom
One observation from Tyson has stood out above all others for me: that throughout his class he would try to teach people how to turn data into information, information into knowledge, then – most importantly – knowledge into wisdom.
This notion has stayed with me since I first watched it and it’s greatly influenced my thought processes when helping our team at Archer Knight, as we set up our own software-as-a-service platform, Flowline. As a company which specialises in oil & gas subsea market intelligence, we can never forget that our ultimate aim is helping people convert that data into wisdom.
Shining a light on good data
I fully believe there’s never been a point in human history where our need for data to be processed into wisdom has been greater. As the world deals with the global spread of COVID-19, we have daily updates on how it is being tackled at a national and international level. It can be overwhelming.
And yet we are witnessing some of the most creative, collaborative and compassionate sharing of information and knowledge that the world has ever witnessed. For example, thanks to advancements in data sharing, the entire genetic makeup of the virus was published online within days.
People are putting prejudices aside and working together to create life-saving solutions. They are shining examples of why the need for balanced, rigorously interrogated, objective data is paramount. Whether it’s research on how to control COVID-19, finding a vaccine, or building ventilators faster, it’s what will help save lives.
Creating our own wisdom
We can all make a difference at the moment. Whether it’s simply washing our hands and staying indoors, or signing up to virus tracking apps to help our communities. But one of the best things we can do is make sure we listen, balance – and challenge – the information we receive.
This will help us create individual wisdom and use it constructively and positively. As the writer Walter Lippmann wrote: ‘It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.’
Stay safe, calm, compassionate and positive.
David Sheret is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of Archer Knight. For more information email David on firstname.lastname@example.org