Knowledge and Information

As a completion of my previous note about Knowledge and Experience I would like to discuss another very important idea, that many times is not very well understood. It is the idea of information vs knowledge.

Information and knowledge are two very distinct possibilities. One may lead to the other, but not always does.

Information is to know about something, without having the experience of it.

For example, if I tell you about Avenida Corrientes, a very large and important avenue in Buenos Aires where a lot of the tango is happening, you have now information about that avenue. You know about it, in an indirect way.

But if one day you happen to go to Buenos Aires and you walk Avenida Corrientes, enjoying all the shops and the people and go dancing in one or several of its clubs, then you have knowledge of Avenida Corrientes. You know about it in a direct way.

When we speak of information, we need to speak of experience as a different thing.

But in the case of knowledge, experience is not separated from it. In this case, knowledge and experience are one and the same.

This is an important distinction because information, as important as it is, it has very limited use…when you have information about something you can talk about it, have a discussion, even write a book J, but that information does not create any profound change.

This is something that happens a lot in our modern times, in which is so easy to know – to have information – about so many things, without any of these things have truly any profound meaning, like for example people ‘know’ that smoking is bad for you, or that kids are dying of hunger, or that money does not create happiness. People know – have information – about these things, but still, even with that information, a person may still smoke, be completely indifferent to the death of a kid, or still spend most of his/her time trying to make money in the hope that it will bring a more happy life.

In contract to this, direct knowledge, has a profound effect in the person that has it.

When you KNOW that smoking is bad for you, for example, you simply stop smoking, you just cannot smoke any more. When you KNOW that kids are dying of hunger, you cannot any more be extravagant or luxurious. And if you KNOW that money does not bring happiness, you will spend at least some of your time doing an activity that will directly or indirectly bring you happiness.

Knowledge IS the most powerful self-improvement tool there is.

We often want to change our lives and we make so much efforts and sacrifices… But change happen only when there is knowledge, and it is knowledge, not us, not our sacrifices, not our will, what does the work. 

For example, if you want to change your diet or move more, KNOW how a bad diet or a sedentary life truly affects your health. If you want to forgive a person that hurt you in any way, KNOW the whole story of that person which will make it clear to you why the person did what it did; then forgiving will just happen. If you want to be at peace with yourself, KNOW what you truly are. 

Or as it says in the Bible: ‘Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

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