Chauffeur Knowledge vs Planck Knowledge

Charlie Munger, in one of his talks, tells the story of famous scientist Max Planck –

I frequently tell the apocryphal story about how Max Planck, after he won the Nobel Prize, went around Germany giving a same standard lecture on the new quantum mechanics. Over time, his chauffeur memorized the lecture and said, “Would you mind, Professor Planck, because it’s so boring to stay in our routine, if I gave the lecture in Munich and you just sat in front wearing my chauffeur’s hat?” Planck said, “Why not?” And the chauffeur got up and gave this long lecture on quantum mechanics. After which a physics professor stood up and asked a perfectly ghastly question. The speaker said, “Well, I’m surprised that in an advanced city like Munich I get such an elementary question. I’m going to ask my chauffeur to reply.

Well, the reason I tell that story is not to celebrate the quick wittedness of the protagonist. In this world I think we have two kinds of knowledge: One is Planck knowledge, that of the people who really know. They’ve paid the dues, they have the aptitude. Then we’ve got chauffeur knowledge. They have learned to prattle the talk. They may have a big head of hair. They often have fine timbre in their voices. They make a big impression. But in the end what they’ve got is chauffeur knowledge masquerading as real knowledge. I think I’ve just described practically every politician in the United States. You’re going to have the problem in your life of getting as much responsibility as you can into the people with the Planck knowledge and away from the people who have the chauffeur knowledge.

On a lighter note the chauffeur had some Planck knowledge of his own, being clever enough to turn that question around!

But in the real world, it is critical to distinguish when someone is “Max Planck,” and when he’s just the “Chauffeur.”

Building Planck knowledge takes deep commitment and large amount of time and effort. Chauffeur knowledge comes from people who have learned to put on a show. Their talks sound impressive and entertaining, they have good voice and may even ooze great charisma but their knowledge is not their own.

In fact, the more eloquent and articulate someone sounds the higher the odds of him having chauffeur knowledge.

Richard Feynman beautifully describes the difference between knowing the name of something (chauffeur knowledge) and knowing something (Planck knowledge).

 

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Learning is earning

learning-is-earning

Learning Equals Earning. True or False?

The answer is True.

It might surprise you how many people think the answer is false. And they use the examples of well-known people who are extraordinarily wealthy but did not finish school. The most frequently used example is Bill Gates, who famously dropped out of Harvard and went on to become the wealthiest person on the planet.

But very few of us will be like Bill Gates. Rather, most of us earn income the old fashioned way – by getting jobs that pay well.

Learning is part of economic survival for most of us. If we don’t stay current, up to date, and continuously re-skilled in our professions (regardless of what they are), we fall behind. Thomas Picketty, the economist who wrote Capital in the 21st Century, stated it clearly in the quote below:

Over more than 300 years of history, the only predictable factor that drives individual earnings potential is “skills and knowledge.”

Learn and grow, or go obsolete.

Bonus: Read the Review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Bill Gates | gatesnotes

 

Lifelong Learning

We need to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know.” — Richard Feynman, Nobel-prize winning physicist

Abraham Lincoln said, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” This opens the premise that learning is a daily adventure and doesn’t stop just because school does. Highly effective people are always focused on continuous learning and competing against themselves to grow and learn day by day.

As professional careers or working lives become extended, workplaces become more age and culturally diverse. On top of this many hard skills will need updating.

Today, with the demands made on us from every angle and attention spans decreasing,  even those who understand well the need for lifelong learning, can find it challenging to stay the course.

Peter-Drunker-quote-continuous-learning

In this video Bill Clinton answers the question “What is the most important thing you have learned?” at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2014:

I think the most important thing that I have learned is that there’s more to learn. That we should — that we should all be hungry for a lifetime.

Click here to watch the full video.

Very often, especially those who have had lengthy and rigorous training, take their foot off the gas once they have qualified, or reached a certain level of seniority.

You don’t want to go there – especially mid-career.  Make learning a priority.

Read more at:

Warnings: If you get good at learning and find that you know more than most people around you, be careful that you don’t turn into a know-it-all.

Knowledge and skills are the currency of 21st century

“Skills have become the currency of 21st Century economies.” — Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education Vice President

Once someone asked Thomas Friedman, author of World is Flat, “What’s your favorite country, other than your own?”

“Taiwan? Why Taiwan?” he replied, “Because Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea with no natural resources to live off of yet it has the fourth-largest financial reserves in the world.

Because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence — men and women.

skills-knowledgeAccording to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, “There is a significant negative relationship between the money countries extract from national resources and the knowledge and skills of their high school population, this is a global pattern that holds across 65 countries that took part in the latest PISA assessment.”

According to the latest PISA results, students in Singapore, Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan stand out as having high PISA scores and few natural resources, while Qatar and Kazakhstan stand out as having the highest oil rents and the lowest PISA scores.

So hold the oil, and pass the books.

Knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.

Read more:

 

[Socratic paradox] I know one thing: that I know nothing

The Greek philosopher Socrates is considered to be one of the wisest person, he was one of the founders of Western philosophy. He however used to say: “I know one thing: that I know nothing”. (Source)

On the contrary, when we see the debates on electronic media or the posts of most people on social networking sites like Facebook, we find that these people are so sure of ‘what they know’ that they are not even willing to listen an alternative point of view.

We, therefore, wonder how a person who is treated by the world as the wisest person says that ‘he knows nothing’ while so many ordinary folks claim to have all the knowledge of the world.

Was Socrates lying; or was he just trying to be humble; or was he actually speaking the truth?

A lot of what we are ‘know’ may actually be useless for us unless we apply the triple filter test.

triple_filter_test

You can easily see that most of what is believed to be ‘knowledge’ is actually neither true, nor good nor even useful.  Yet people are so proud having such knowledge that are busy convincing others that they have solutions of all the problems of the world.

Only an ignorant person can give a categorical reply to all questions of life.  Most people believe that they can answer any question of life. It requires the wisdom of highest order to accept that you don’t know much about anything. Hence only a wise man can say these words “I don’t know”, while fools are answering all questions of life.