How Much Do You Know?

Seems the less you know the better

In the 80’s Thomas K Landauer conducted a study—and factoring a 70 year life span, how much you learn versus how much you forget versus what one is able to recall, it turns out individually we don’t know very much.

The averaged human has a seemingly unlimited capacity to absorb knowledge, take in their surroundings and memorize bits of interest, but so much we are remembering eventually gets pushed off the end of the tape. And the information we are scanning turns into mere bullet points—fuzzy highlights of the unordinary we encounter any particular day. Our radar typically remembers the anomalies, not the familiar of the daily drive.

What someone was wearing or the details of a boring drive is not recorded sufficiently to know it. We scan for danger—and a typical day goes by without recollection. What day was that anyway? I use to do some fairly high level math—now I can’t understand my own notes. It went away when I left its utility.

The typical belief does not have enough facts to support it. It isn’t just religion either, but flat earthers, round earthers, scientists, politics, etc. This is why the world is enamored in belief—we can’t remember enough to know much of anything. Most belief is habit in the safety of routine. And yes, interpretation is full of conjecture as well.

Turns out at the climax of life the average person knows about 1 gigabyte +\- of information.

That isn’t much. It’s less than a low-end USB thumb drive. You know about $10 worth of digital memory. What we do have in our favor though is our ability to collaborate and share. This is where we get the power to do anything we collectively put our efforts to.

That is what forces us to tolerate each other. Watching the “Alone” series it dawned on me how working and living alone, the foremost experts in the field basically had a competition to see who would starve to death last. Nobody thrived. It takes a village of skill sets and beliefs to thrive.

Remember that post I did about the inverse square law of physics? It was one of my all-time favorites, yet I don’t remember much of what it said. I do remember Dave in the comments. Dissipated Energy


Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

12 thoughts on “How Much Do You Know?”

  1. I have to believe that 1 Gig (based upon what definition of byte btw) is dynamic. Just as when you learn a physical skill and then stop practicing/doing it, it comes back more quickly that when you first endeavored to learn it. Apparent the nerve to muscle connections are strengthened and then atrophy but never go away, so that they can be reinforced much faster than established from scratch. (This is part of the myth of muscle memory.)

    For example, I learned a shitload of chemistry which I am hard pressed to recall at this date. But if I really wanted to reacquire that knowledge, I suspect that I could get back up to speed fairly quickly. So, the current 1 Gig of storage may involve a great deal of turnover, is what I am suggesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder (just in actual data) how many thumb drives it would take to store all the prescribed material and problems to get through K-12 grade and then college? Then how much of that is permanent. I’ve probably forgotten most of the teachers names as well.


  2. It is really not recall that is important but knowing where to get that information when you need.
    I forget names as soon as I am told unless the person is very beautiful or remarkable but I can always ask the name holder.
    So a gigabyte of placeholders is a lot of information, if you ask me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is one reason the education system must change. We have google, we don’t need to memorize what’s in the box. The basic tools are necessary than focus on the individuals creativity type would be my solution.


  3. Don’t know if any of you know the NTN trivia network they have (or had?) in bars across North America, but in the 80s and 90s I was among the top players. Trivia stuck to me like burrs to a fox. Now, I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. The pathways of the brain are mostly disconnected. As far as school learning went, Jim, I forgot most of it when I handed my final exam papers in each school year. It was what I read on my own that I retained, until a few years ago. Now my brain is empty…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head”—Eric Hoffer


  4. What I know today I’ll probably forget by tomorrow. It’s true that the routine stuff is just not stored at all. I look for clues to decide if I brushed my teeth this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. How much do I know? Can’t say. But I confess that my general attitude towards life aligns most closely with that of country singer Wade Hayes: “I’m old enough to know better but I’m still too young to care.” 🙂


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