Gaining Knowledge

In my simple quest to find the difference in information and knowledge, I’ve discovered there’s nothing simple about it. I choose to depict what I see as the difference with an example resembling a geometry proof.

I think of information as statements: Mr. Wilson’s wooden house is painted white.  Mr. Johnson’s wooden house is unpainted.

Over two years, Mr. Wilson’s house looks the same. Mr. Johnson’s house is deteriorating.

Those statements of information are drawn from sensory perception. Knowledge is what we do with that information. Knowledge requires thinking; it requires drawing conclusions.

With the house information, we can draw the conclusion that paint retards deterioration of wood. We should paint wooden houses to preserve them. We can take that knowledge with us to another neighborhood.

Knowledge is what can be done with information. Information alone is not knowledge, and yet you can’t have knowledge without information.

Why does this make a difference? I believe education today is loading kids with tons of information, but little knowledge.  An ability to memorize information is great, but having all those facts in the mind without drawing a conclusion from the information isn’t the point of education. Having information at hand or able to access information on the Internet (whether the info is true or false is a whole other topic), isn’t going to solve the problems of this world or lead us to new inventions and new innovations.

We solve problems by using knowledge gleaned from looking at lots of information. What we need is more analytical thinking, more creative thinking.

Some people believe that knowledge is truth, and that it will not change. I don’t believe that. I believe knowledge is changeable. If more information can be gathered that allows a different interpretation, then knowledge can change.

But at the core is cognitive ability. We all need to recognize cause and effect. If you do this, this will happen. Knowledge requires thinking and action. Information is passive, but it is required before knowledge can be born.