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The Pursuit of Wisdom

...Think back to Rosling’s surveys. "I have tested audiences from all around the world and from all walks of life: medical students, teachers, university lecturers, eminent scientists, investment bankers, executives in multinational companies, journalists, activists, senior politicians. Most of them also get most of the answers wrong. Some even score worse than the general public; a few of the most appalling results came from Nobel laureates and medical researchers" (Rosling 2018). In the Third Age, the capacity of these people—my people, my generation—to understand all of the data, let alone gather the minimum amount of information to arrive at knowing what to do, was beaten out by a troop of monkeys. Despite all of our hubris, we failed those who depended upon us. And we reacted to their understandable fear and anger by, in turn fearing and hating them. "The public is a swarm of hostile morons…. You don't need to make them understand you; you just need to defeat them, or wait for them to die" (Reynolds 2017). Is it any wonder, given how my generation has behaved, that the center does not hold? And a storm is coming. Will you be any wiser? Ah wisdom. How does one arrive at wisdom? Think back to our model. Wisdom is the ability to look at different paths and then choose the right one. I never did explain just exactly how that works. Well here it is. Translate “wisdom” to mean “FAILURE.” How did we learn not to eat that berry? Well, Thog ate it and started convulsing and then died. Thanks to Thog we acquired a bit of knowledge —that berry killed Thog—that led to a kernel of wisdom: DON’T EAT THE BERRY. Why is it that in all cultures we speak of the old as wise and not the young? Because old Homines sapientes have had more time to fail more times than young Homines sapientes. And those who succeeded in surviving a lifetime of failures were, almost by default, “wise.” Wisdom is the culmination of a lifetime of failing successfully. The missing f(x) in our DIKW formula is experience. .... The bottom line is you need experience—surviving failure—to arrive at wisdom. OR, you need to listen to people who have survived enough failure to arrive at wisdom. Here are the problems you will have to confront. First, the collapse of time depth is obsolescing experience. Boomer wisdom, borne of Third Age experience, is likely to be of questionable utility to you as you try to survive Fourth Age challenges. Second, Fourth Age challenges are increasing exponentially. There are too many berries to eat all at once and not enough Thogs to eat them. And given the capacity of Fourth Age warmaking, the next frightened overreaction could be truly catastrophic. Can you amass enough failures to arrive at enough wisdom to meet those challenges hurtling at you? If not, then the all too certain Homo sapiens response to the coming fear and chaos will be to overreact violently toward you and yours.

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