My wife, Katie, says that I am an eternal learner. Take me into a bookstore and you will find that the span of my interests outweigh the time in my day. I look like a 5-year-old in a candy store; I want everything. I love conversations that deepen my knowledge in different subjects or counter my current belief systems. With every conversation and with every book I read, I realize that I know nothing. It deepens my belief that I could spend the rest of my life digging and not get to the bottom of most things.
What do you think about black holes? What’s your opinion on spacetime?
Most of us would say that we don’t know anything about that. However, think about how many times we give opinions about things as complicated as black holes that we have never really looked into with any depth. We often believe that we have to have an opinion about the hot topics of the day. We are told what the most important and pressing issues are and then told how to think about them.
I’m growing to believe that I shouldn’t have an opinion on some things or at least shouldn’t have an opinion that people listen to. When asked about some of the current hot issues of the day, I have grown OK with saying, “It’s complicated, I haven’t really looked into it enough.” I don’t have to, and will never, know about everything. In order to really understand most things, it takes a lot of research.
I know that I’m not qualified to speak on things that I have never read or thought about. Taking this stance has allowed me to open myself up to new ideas. If all of your ideas are correct, will there be room to add new information? Can you pour any more liquid into a full cup? In this way, keep your cup empty and ready to learn something new. Hold opinions, but grasp them lightly. Read and listen to arguments that are counter to your current ideas. It is the humble stance of not-knowing that brings true knowledge.
The next opinion you are going to argue about with your friends and family, ask yourself some questions first. How deeply have you really looked into the subject? Have you looked into any history or counterpoints to your stance? Are you willing to listen to others and think about what they say? Should you have a strong opinion about black holes, in the first place? Should you be ready to argue with your neighbors and not talk to your family?
It wouldn’t take long for me to tell you how much I know about black holes and how gravity effects time.
All of my knowledge comes from Matthew McConaughey and the movie, Interstellar. However, I’d say it’s way more complicated than that.