The More You Learn, the Less You Know

Sometimes I think the more we learn, the more questions we have.

You know, this is true with so many things. For a variety of reasons, I became an expert on marijuana. I was involved with NORML back in the days when it was a real subversive and uncool thing to be into. In fact, I was deeply involved with Orange County, California NORML. I went to a few California NORML parties and I met the head of national NORML.

Later I became close to Dale, head of California NORML. I was very interested in the research side of things. I was still deep into it in the early 1990’s when I hardly even smoked the stuff anymore. One time I was talking to Dale, and he said he’d only met one other layperson who knew more about pot than I did (as in the research side of the question). That was some regular guy like me up in Alaska who just decided to become an expert in it for whatever reason.

The weird thing was the more I learned about pot, the less I knew! As in, the more things that I thought added up didn’t add up at all.

When you hardly know anything about a subject, you think you’ve figured it out because you only have bare facts, and they seem to make sense. But then when you dig real deep into that same subject, you start to realize that all that stuff you thought was settled and made sense wasn’t really settled at all, and the more you study, the more you see things that don’t add up and don’t make sense. As in, the more you study, the more inexplicable mysteries seem to pop up.

Scientists would call these unresolved questions rather than mysteries, but it’s the same thing.

I did a huge paper on Turkish languages. At the start I knew almost nothing about them, but I thought I had it figured out. I did this massive paper on them (a project that went on for years), and I kept running into stuff that didn’t add up or didn’t make sense over and over.

It was actually pretty fun because it was a challenge to have all these cool mysteries to solve. I’d solve one, and then three new ones would pop up. The whole process was just discovering one mystery or conundrum or another and then making some sense of it after a while.

But even when I was done, I still had a lot of unresolved questions, and I assure you that some people will strongly disagree with some of my conclusions. In fact, some already have. Another journal wanted me to write up some of my findings about their little section of Turkic, and I got blown away by the reviewers in peer review who told me I was full of it and weren’t very nice about it either.

It’s sort of like the more you learn, the less you know (for sure).

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