The HeadScratcher Post Archive
June  2013
There are no mysteries
       July 2013 The Headscratcher Post Headscratchers LLC    Edition 93

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There are no mysteries

Throughout our work, and our personal lives, we occasionally face a situation when a solution just isn't forthcoming.  No matter how hard we try, no matter how many experiments we run, or people we ask, or internet searches we conduct, an answer isn't there.

These "mysteries" appear in all professions and all walks of life.  In areas of human behavior or anatomy the answer too often comes back as "we just don't know".   In the earth sciences, or space, we can't always explain how or why something occurs.   Accidents occur and we can't always explain what happened or why.   Even something as simple as a problem with your computer, that comes and then goes away as fast as it arrived, often has no explanation.

We call these "a mystery" and decide to move on to tackle another problem that is solvable.

But are these mysteries really unsolvable or just temporary.   Before giving up, ask "a mystery to whom?", or "a mystery for how long?"

Consider this:  A mystery results when we do not have sufficient information to explain a circumstance.   This lack of information is called "ignorance".  We are ignorant due to one of two reasons;


Time related ignorance: The information is not known, it has not been discovered. In time it can be discovered, but it is unknown at this time. This is when we do research and experiment, and continually strive for additional knowledge. It might take an hour, a week, a year, a millennium.


Access related ignorance. The information is known, but not by you or me. Somebody out there knows and has the information. We don't know who that somebody is, or don't have access to them, or where the information is. Search engines and the internet have given us a great tool that helps, but unless someone publishes or communicates what they know, it's unknown. This is frustrating to many. The answer exists, someone knows it, yet you can't get to it.


What if we could capture all of world's knowledge and experience in a way that can be intelligently searched to find answers?   Imagine if you could capture the knowledge base of the millions of doctors in the world.  Just think about the benefits of speed and accuracy in diagnosing an illness.  How about if you had access to the knowledge and experience of every mechanic out there?  Fixing a leaky faucet, or noise from a car would be a cake walk.  Access related ignorance would go away.  

Two Takeaways:
Takeaway 1:  There are NO mysteries, just temporary ignorance.  Ask yourself if this ignorance comes from not knowing what is known by others, or not knowing because it is currently unknown.   If the former, go search, go ask others, go seek out the people who have the answers.  If currently unknown, make an assessment as to how much time you might need to discover.   If reasonable, then go discover what you don't know.   Either way, in most cases, getting to the answer about what you don't know is often very achievable.  It's not a mystery, just temporary ignorance.  Go find the answer.

Takeaway 2:  Find ways to eliminate access ignorance, i.e. help find ways to make your knowledge and experience accessible.  Here's the challenge to every doctor, every mechanic, every educator, every professional in every industry;  how do we capture what you know and what you have experienced, so that others can access your knowledge to solve their problem?   Google, Yahoo, Microsoft ... your search engines are only as powerful as the information available to search.   To minimize information access related ignorance, we need a way to capture the knowledge of our experiences.  Search engines are great ... we need advances in capture engines!  Is Google Glass a start?  Imagine if every conversation, discussion, at every doctor visit, every operation, every doctor's conference was recorded.  Of course there are major privacy issues, but imagine the information we could have access to if this knowledge base was captured.  Sir Frances Bacon said "Knowledge is Power".   Knowledge gives us choices.   Knowledge eliminates ignorance.  Knowledge solves "mysteries".  Find ways to document, record, and make your knowledge accessible
.

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