6. A View About Doing What You Know

Seeds of Knowledge

We can learn from our own experiences, from others’ experiences, from books and media. We can learn from virtually any kind of experience or source. Language provides the means through which most of our learning occurs. The quality of our knowledge—how and what we learn—is dependent on the quality of our language behaviors and our evaluative judgments that guide our behaviors. But simply learning or knowing makes no difference unless that knowledge is reflected in our behaviors. Do we do what we know? Are our motivations and expectations consistent with our knowledge and experience, as well as appropriate to each new situation?

  • Many of our individual, and societal, problems arise not from lack of knowledge but from the fact that we don’t apply the knowledge we possess.
  • The range of what we know keeps growing and growing. Do our behaviors and attitudes incorporate this new knowledge? Are we effective in teaching new knowledge to our children and others?
  • Having a scientific attitude does not preclude one from appreciating art, beauty, aesthetics, etc. Having such an orientation may lead to unusual questions that may provoke a deeper understanding and appreciation.
  • Are we flexible enough to adapt to whatever is needed to solve the immediate, specific problem, even when what is needed may be silence? Is it possible for our “words to get in our eyes”?
  • What does it mean to “follow your bliss”?
  • Working together, or collaborating with others, can lead to more creative and productive solutions to problems.
  • New experiences in new environments may lead to more creative and innovative thinking.

This type of an orientation, or scientific world view, suggests that revisions to language habits may be appropriate:

  • differentiate facts from inferences, assumptions, beliefs
  • avoid simple “either/or,” “black/white” perspectives; acknowledge the gray areas
  • recognize the “to-me-ness” factor in your descriptions and judgments
  • avoid “to be” verbs and absolutistic, all-knowing terms
  • recognize when you objectify, or reify, abstract processes when you talk about them as if they were ‘real’ nouns
  • take responsibility for the individual meanings you generate to what you see, read, experience, etc.
  • look for differences among similarities, and similarities among differences

Read “Semantic pollution fouling the airwaves” as an example of modern propaganda: One of the overlooked and under-reported aspects related to drilling in the Barnett Shale is the negative impact to our local linguistic environment. We’re not talking particulate matter here. I’m talking about the worrisome increase in measurable propagandulate in the lower levels of what is technically referred to as the “purchased mediasphere.” This semantic pollution poses immediate and long-term threats to the sustainability of what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.” I’m talking about Chesapeake Energy’s full-frontal, body-slamming, leg-whipping, arm-twisting, head-butting propaganda blitz on behalf of the Barnett Shale. [more]
Watch a clip from “Lay Off of My PERSUADE Shoes” that examines the Chesapeake Energy PR/propaganda campaign.