The Humble Usefulness Of “I Don’t Know”

We live in a world in which publicly stating that you don’t know something may get in you trouble. Not directly, as there isn’t any law against it (yet), but via a subtle social pressure, by which everybody must prove at any given moment that they have an opinion on something, and, in general, that that specific opinion is better than yours.

We are at a point where we’d rather be blatantly wrong about something, than admit we simply don’t know anything about that.

For what is worth, I believe there is a lot of value in accepting that you may not know anything about anything.

There is value in not only accepting that you can’t literally comprehend anything, but also in being public about your ignorance on certain topics.

Here’s at least 4 strong arguments for this.

It Leaves Room For Improvement

Every time you accept that you don’t know something, you create room for knowing that something. If you state you already know it (even if you don’t) that space is occupied, you can’t do anything about it anymore. You lost the opportunity. There’s nowhere to grow.

It Correctly Assess A Situation

Every decision we make is based on some assessment. If the assessment is wrong, most likely the decision will be wrong too. So, if we pretend to know something about anything (when we clearly don’t) we’re incorrectly assessing a situation. The decision we’ll make based on that assessment will be flawed.

It Hones Your “Say No” Skills

Both “yes” and “no”, as answers, have value. And both “yes” and “no” attitudes can be trained. In a sense, practicing your “yes” or “no” are just like honing any other skill. If you always answer “yes” to anything, your life would be pretty boring (not to mention you may get into some serious trouble).

It Challenges Your Ego

Internalizing the fact that you simply may not know something, will challenge your ego. Ego wants to be right all the time, it thrives on predictability and structure. But life is just self-aware chaos, there’s no predictability whatsoever in it – your ego is playing with you. So, admitting you don’t know some stuff will upset your ego. And that’s a good thing.

I’m sure there are many other arguments in favor of this, but I’m just admitting I simply don’t know them yet.

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