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Following on from my  recent post entitled Using the Mind; Understanding is Optional, it occurred to me that there might be a sequel and, as so often happens, life provided an example.

I was involved in a conversation with two people in a hospital recently. This was not work, it was about me getting help with something (and as a result of the conversation I decided to go elsewhere, but that’s by-the-by). Our exchange reminded me that it’s possible to understand how something works, but to be unable to apply the knowledge in a practical way.

Our society prizes expertise and experts can reach high places, but expertise can have a down-side if it means being so involved in the intellectual process of understanding the workings of something, that you can no longer see how to apply that understanding effectively.

In the original post I said that we don’t need to understand something in order to make use of it. The converse is also true, we can understanding something extremely well and yet be unable to apply what we know. I guess we all do it sometimes.


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