Essays

The Seductive Power of Knowledge

Ah, knowledge. Is there a sweeter drug? I mean, besides pizza rolls and bath salts.

No. There is not. Such is the heady power of knowing, the addictive nature of learning.

I’m not perfect. And despite my reputation, I am not always right. There are times when I am actually wrong. I am perfectly willing to admit when I’m wrong. I don’t like it, but it has been known to happen on occasion.

Some of my closest friends and family might tell you the opposite. They may believe I am unwilling to accept my wrongness because I am pretty particular about what sources of information I see as “true.”

See, I’m not willing to accept anecdotal information. I’m generally not willing to accept Wikipedia entries, either. I like to have information from multiple, verifiable sources. I like data. I like hardline numbers. I like peer-review facts and I respect expert authorities.

Gut feelings and hearsay, not so much.

See, I really like to learn. I do truly love being right, and the only way to be right most of the time is to have knowledge. You get knowledge by learning. Used responsibly, the internet is an endless resource pool for learning. You can learn anything. You can gain skills and insights. It is a wonderful world of data.

I love being right, so I make sure I generally am.

It seems contrary to what might be said about me, but I don’t actually like to argue unless:

A) Everyone involved understand the argument exists purely for the entertainment value of those involved in the argument. I call this the “Troll vs. Troll” argument. There are no rules. Only pure rhetorical joy.

or

B) The topic at hand is factually accurate.

In neither of these situations is the winner the person with the loudest voice or more viscous emotional attacks. Now, in scenario A, we might get pretty loud and nasty, but we’re also friends with a mutual understanding of what we’re doing. In scenario B, the loud, angry person is usually the loser.

Look, I’m good at being loud. In a “who can be the loudest” contest, you’d do well to put your money on me. Being loud isn’t the same as being right.

I like to be loud. I love to be right.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to understand the difference between loud and right. My natural instinct is to be the loudest and even today I find myself needing to fight away that urge in order to be right.

Generally, the times when I’m at my most argumentatively dangerous is when I’m quiet.

If I get quiet and go away for awhile during an argument, you should be afraid–especially if you’re trying to win by being loud.

Because I’m using my superpower. I’m learning.

Thanks to the power of cyberspace, I can learn extremely quickly. I have mad Google Fu. I’m good at figuring out what I need to learn. The real power of knowledge comes from knowing what you need to know, and I’ve honed that skill that a fly fisher hones the perfect cast.

I challenge everyone to go forward and learn. Any time you see an argument arise, take 10 minutes and dive into the Internet’s hollow bastions. Find multiple sources of information from various backgrounds and viewpoints. Assimilate that information into a wall of powerful rightness and then sharpen your knowledge into a sword.

Use it to lay waste to the world of ignorance!

BATHE IN THE BLOOD OF THE FOOLHARDY!

Alright…

I might have gotten a little carried away there.

I know it isn’t easy. Trust me, I know. I have had a hard time letting go of my own opinions, beliefs, and anger. Sometimes, I spend too much time trying to find facts to support my preconceived notions instead of letting my opinions be composed by facts.

But, I keep trying to be better. I keep learning.

I hope you will, too.

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.