“I see nothing. I know Nottthhhing!” pleads Sergeant Schultz in every episode of Hogan’s Heroes. But viewers can see that Sergeant Schultz alone knows everything going-on at Stalag 13. Tim Harford’s TED presentation offers anecdotal evidence that the one true way to know a thing is first to assume you know nothing about it. Herein lies the problem—the average biped is apparently endowed with a God-complex. The more complex and unknowable a thing the more we think we understand it. The way Harford sees it, acting upon such hubris creates much harm in the world and he shares some stories to bolster his view. And then he evangelizes his solution.
Through his supreme ineptitude Sergeant Schultz became the all-knowing Yogi of Stalag 13, all the while refusing steadfastly to see it. Is that really the way to knowledge? Maybe not precisely but suspending preconceptions seems to be the key to unlocking false assumptions and making corrections. The tools for navigating the path of knowing have never been more plentiful but the quantity of information keeps growing at an exponential rate and therefore so does the opportunity for false assumptions.
If our false assumptions block the path to knowledge is reality a complete fiction?