ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

For everyone who loves to suggest: Please do your homework before suggesting

Superficial knowledge or real knowledge

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The day before yesterday, I was at a friend’s Wedding reception — I hate to attend weddings, especially of my friends, because it reminds me I am getting old — and it was a large gathering: many of my school batchmates were there. One of my friends was discussing the recent stock market crash — Sensex.

My friend discussing the Market crash

And he said, “ Markets always crash in December because people like to sell before the start of a new year.” He had downed pints of whisky, but I don’t think he had had enough alcohol by then to affect his reasoning.

People love to opine

What stood out to me was how easy was it for my friend to posit his opinion on the market. I knew the opinion was crap; it was as bad as a doctor trying to fly an aeroplane. But my friend to whom the “market advice” was directed nodded along. I had read that the omicron variant didn’t bode well for the global market, but I didn’t interject because I hadn’t done adequate research.

Have they done their homework?

People have opinions on everything, but where’s that opinion coming from? Do people like to opine just for the sake of adding to the conversation or show themselves as a knowledgeable person? Do people have the facts or knowledge to back their opinion? What one calls “ doing their homework”?

I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.

-Charlie Munger

Do the work before you opine but doing the work is difficult

Saying anything off the top of one’s head is easy while acquiring knowledge, facts and examining them is difficult.

One has to parse out information; one has to think of ways in which one may be tricking or fooling oneself into believing that one understands the subject. One has to become one’s best critic, intellectual honesty, honesty to kill some of their best ideas.

Can you argue better than someone who holds the opposite view?

If anyone wants people to respect their opinion or come off as someone who has done their homework, they must know the other side of the argument better than those who are arguing from that side. As the article puts it, “only then you can say, I can hold this view because I can’t find anyone else who can argue better against my view.”

It’s easy to seek information that confirms one’s opinion or what they believe they know. But the difference between people who do the work and who just blabber or repeat what they have read somewhere is huge. When one does the work, one can back up their opinion with facts and logic. They can answer questions that will follow after they opine.

A gap in your knowledge?

I have often seen students doing great in exams, but when it comes to applying their knowledge to novel problems, they have struggled. I have been in that situation, so I know it feels like a gap existing in the knowledge.

Doing the work requires lots of work: knowing both sides of the argument, understanding what problems exist with your understanding and how can you fill those blind spots in the knowledge.

Learning to say, “I don’t know” is important

And a lot of what I said comes from learning to say “no, I don’t know.” It’s a lot better to say “I don’t know” than just reeling off memorised information.

As Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (1135–1204), commonly known as Maimonides, said: “Teach thy tongue to say I do not know, and thou shalt progress.”

To my friend, I would love to ask, “when do the people who sell shares in December buy again? January because the new year starts in January.”

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SURYASH KUMAR

SURYASH KUMAR

I share my perspective through my writing to which you may disagree. You can contact me at coolsuryash@gmail.com

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