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Understanding the Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

A great number of people don’t know the difference between knowledge and wisdom. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know that there is a difference. There are misconceptions about both, too. They are definitely not the same thing.

Today’s world is based largely on knowledge. It has never been easier to get information, factual or otherwise. The problem is that the world is also sorely lacking in wisdom. To fully understand the problem, it is quite helpful to know how the two differ.

‘Knowledge’ is easy enough to understand. The root of the word is ‘know’. Knowledge pertains to the facts about virtually anything. People sometimes confuse opinions with knowledge and this is an area that the mainstream media uses to its benefit. Presenting facts in a way that causes emotional bias plays to opinions rather than knowledge.

It can be taken a step further, too. By insinuation, people can be led to believe things that aren’t factual at all. This happens often with the media and people in the US have heard a great example for the last few weeks.

The media has reported that there have been 13 shootings at schools recently in the US, culminating in the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Florida school at the hands of one unstable criminal individual. The insinuation is that all 13 shootings have been mass murders. That isn’t even close to the truth.

A shooting that occurred on school property when there were no other people around is counted. The discharge of a firearm accidentally on school grounds is counted. Reports of gunshots at a school that has been closed for some time is counted. The fact is that except for the Florida shooting, in only two cases did the shooter actually try to shoot someone and in both cases, they didn’t succeed. They were disarmed before that could happen.

Thus, the knowledge of the one mass shooting has been turned into an emotional issue due to the use of implications that lead to false conclusions.

This is actually where wisdom (or lack thereof) enters the picture. Wisdom is the ability to discern fact from fiction and to actually use and apply the knowledge in a common sense sort of way.

So what does ‘discern’ mean? The Free Dictionary supplies an excellent definition. Discern means “to recognize or perceive clearly”.

In other words, a wise person would recognize that there weren’t 13 mass shootings, there was only one, and that it is immaterial anyway. It was stated only to elicit an emotional response rather than rational, common sense thought. Wisdom kicks in before there is any emotional response and it disregards insinuations as being totally superfluous or unneeded.

One of the misconceptions about wisdom is that it is something people gain with age. This is untrue. Getting older doesn’t equate with getting wiser. There are plenty of older people who aren’t close to being wise (and I’m still working on it). At the same time, there are people who are young who possess a lot of wisdom. Age has nothing to do with wisdom.

It isn’t always easy to discern actual factual knowledge from the insinuations and opinions we are presented to us daily. As has been seen, knowledge can be factual or unfactual, too. To truly use and act on the knowledge in a meaningful way, then, requires wisdom to discern and common sense before any actions take place.

Put in a different way that might be more clear; the opposite of being wise is being foolish.

That is why I said that knowledge is easy to come by but that wisdom is sorely lacking in society today.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. My niece was at Virginia Tech when a mass shooting took place a few years ago. My son’s Early Childhood Intervention Worker’s best friend Victoria Soto died at Sandy Hook Elementary School trying to shield the little ones in her class. I don’t know what motivates you to put so much energy into pushing the BRA line Rex but seriously do you think Jesus would advocate for easy access to assault rifles?

    • More than anything, it is simple logic and I really don’t put much energy into it. Removing “assault” rifles won’t prevent mass murders. Most gun-related murders don’t even involve rifles. There are already over 10,000 laws regarding guns in the US and murder is also banned, but that doesn’t stop severely mentally unstable criminals from killing people.

      Adding more laws won’t do anything for people who refuse to follow the law. In fact, banning a particular gun won’t even prevent a person from buying that particular gun illegally. Heroin is illegal and it is banned, but there is still a huge heroin problem in the US. For that matter, a huge number of gun deaths in the US, about a third according to the FBI, are drug and gang-related. That doesn’t even take into consideration that more people die from using illegal drugs than are killed with guns every year.

      Then, too, there’s the fact that murders of any sort are bad. I don’t make a distinction between one kind of murder being better or worse than another kind. Recently and for the first time, London surpassed New York City for knife-related deaths. I have little doubt that the Brits have strict laws against stabbing murders, but that doesn’t prevent them. The victims are also just as dead as they’d be if the killing had been done with a gun, explosive device, vehicle, or mortar. Murder is wrong, regardless of the tool used or where it occurs.

      Wading through the emotionally-supercharged knowledge and decerning the truth is where wisdom comes in and should be used, though often isn’t in this debate. For example, also according to the FBI, 67% of counties in the US register one or fewer gun-related murders per year. In fact, 17% of counties register 89% of the gun murders in the country, per year. The one thing that the 17% of counties have in common is that they have very strict gun control laws. This is rather interesting, isn’t it? The media doesn’t want to talk about this part, naturally. However, it isn’t at all difficult to see that the answer to murders and even a single murder is too many, isn’t to pass more gun control laws that won’t be followed by killers.

      At the same time, law enforcement agencies estimate that 1.5 million crimes per year in the US are prevented by the use of guns. Using this knowledge without also using wisdom, a person could be inclined to think that the answer to the murders would be to actually arm more people. Again, though, although that would probably drop crime rates, it wouldn’t prevent a mentally unstable criminal from killing people. Being armed doesn’t deter crime 100% of the time.

      • Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. When you state that the 17% of counties registering 89% of gun murders have “strict gun laws” you aren’t providing any relevant information because “strict gun laws” is a subjective term. To some people any restrictions on gun ownership constitutes a “strict gun law” while there are some on the other extreme that consider anything short of abolition as too lax. I know most civilized countries have reduced gun violence by enacting sensible laws that leave military style weapons with their military personnel. I will not continue further with this conversation because it will be difficult to remain civil. People close to me have been personally affected by this insanity and I see little likelihood of that changing as long as the BRA owns Congress. Hopefully a day will come when people say enough and if your 2nd amendment rights are infringed I will include them in my thoughts and prayers.

        • I’m still trying to figure out who the BRA is. I know about the NRA, which is an association of private citizens, but I don’t think I’ve heard of the BRA. If you meant the NRA, as you said, figures don’t lie…the NRA actually doesn’t spend much lobbying. Their power comes from the very large number of US citizens who are either members or who support them. Their membership has grown tremendously in the past couple months, too. If that relates to “buying” politicians, it is because the politicians know that the NRA represents a huge voting block. Incidentally, the NRA also spends a substantial amount of money teaching gun safety around the country.

          As for “strict gun laws”, simply look at the gun laws in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. All of these are in counties in that 17%.

          As for “most civilized countries have reduced gun violence…”, that is a talking point that has been pretty well dismantled. First, it doesn’t focus on violence, only on violence involving guns, as if stabbings and beatings are okay because guns weren’t involved. As I mentioned, London has surpassed NYC in stabbings for the first time in history.

          Second, even as flawed as that argument is, it is also untrue. Switzerland, most people would agree, is a ‘civilized country’ (a term that isn’t even defined). They have had a larger per capita gun ownership than the US for many decades. Yet their ‘gun violence’ is much less than the UK, US, France, etc. Mass killings of any sort are quite low, in fact.

          You may not realize it, but you’ve firmly made my point for me, too; the difference between knowledge and wisdom and how so many people and the media relies on knowledge without apparently knowing that without wisdom, that knowledge is nearly meaningless.

          • The stencht of bull manure and condescension is nauseating me here. You are skilled at prrsenting reactionary talking points as I have observed in some of your previous posts, arguing that the civil war was fought over mistreatment of the southern white population and that paying a living wage to low income workers is bad for the economy There is nothing wise about articulating a world view that perpetuates classism, racism, and violence. My dad fougbt against fascism in World War 2 and its sickenening to see people hiding behind a bible pushing that same reactionary fascist line while attacking media that doesn’t fit their narrative. Oh “BRA” was a typo from my old arthritic fingers on this little Samsung phone.

  2. since I moved up here to Indiana I have seen more off the wall people
    that I thought could EVER be on this earth, they have NO IDEA of what
    the meaning of wisdom & knowledge is if it hit them up side their heads.

    Some of the things they talk about or say or do is just so crazy that I’m
    just like what on earth has happened to all the smart ones these days?
    they just disappeared off the face of the earth & left the crazy ones here.

    • I couldn’t agree more about needing more wisdom today. It actually looks like the move is away from wisdom, though. Since discernment kicks in before opinions and emotions take over, the people who argue things from the emotional standpoint aren’t using wisdom. Emotional arguments are on the increase.

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