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The Bearded Skeptic offers educated & insulated skepticism in a world full of BS. Content and opinions provided by the skeducator, William T. Kendal.


Educational thoughts, claims and predictions with a skeptical twist from the Bearded Skeptic.



The Paradox of Pretension

Taylor Kendal

Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different. We love to talk on things we don’t know about.
— Seth Avett

Is it peculiar that in my adult life everyone seems to know either nothing or everything?  Not literally, but as a strange culturally-induced (I assume) self-perception.  Naturally, I consider myself to be an exception to this futile phenomenon. Then again, that's the only way I'm able to objectively explore it right?  As a kid I remember a certain pressure to always have an answer, to always have THE answer.  The phrase "I don't know" really had no plausible potential.  Not when I was really young, but certainly through middle and high school, I can remember the inner-dialog, which usually manifested itself by way of philosophical fraudulence (the kids call that cheating).  It was the only logical way to escape the inevitable realization that all the world's knowledge was not bestowed upon me at birth (this was before Google as we know it today, which yields that supremely sarcastic point undeniably debatable).


Fortunately, through much mediation coming mostly in the form of education, music and punctilious people, I was able to see the power in admitting intellectual defeat.  I now find not knowing to be one of the more liberating states of being, and I admittedly try to practice it daily.  Seriously, embrace being completely clueless about something and see how it feels.  The beauty of accepting not knowing in 2014 comes down to our pervasive digital pocket portfolios (some may say iPhone).  The ever-increasing prevalence of the internet (and ever-decreasing device sizes) means that not knowing is always fleeting, especially if you hang out with the right crowd, so stop acting like you know when you don't know, which reminds me of my musical form of mediation mentioned earlier (at least get to the chorus),

So what about those that grew up embracing the art of not knowing, openly and often surrendering to the sophic seduction? Surely they have the thirst for endless questioning that even the most sophisticated scientists would clamor over.  That's just not how I see it.  Constantly repressing a mind's inherent need to know at an early age only leads to pretentious narcissism and the necessity for answer (with any degree of accuracy) at all times.  I hear it every day, and the most terrifying realization is that the obvious inaccuracies are spouted with the utmost conviction.  It's as if the less informed on a topic, the more they love to relay their wisdom, and the scariest part is, with sufficient iteration, they seem to authentically believe themselves.

So those that grow up hiding behind the guise of persistent knowledge end up crippled with regards to analytical questioning, and those that grow up leaning with full weight on the crutch of "I don't know" end up filling the world with bullshit.  In the central-most one percent of this spectrum I've found a parcel of prudent people that admit (even embrace) what they don't know and simultaneously tout tolerably towards pretension.  I'm admittedly still leaning towards the latter, but I find solace in every moment that I steer closer to equilibrium.  

I'll let Robert Anton Wilson do the honors of summation: