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Thread: Knowledge vs Memory

  1. #1 Knowledge vs Memory 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Let's say there was only one book in the world and only two people who could read it. For the sake of conversation the book is about birds. One person reads it and memorizes every page and could tell anyone who asks exactly what each page contains. The second person reads the book, doesn't memorize a single page but uses the book as a reference in order to learn more about birds.

    There's a completeness associated with the first person, the book is read and that's it. Not so for our second reader who deems the tome incomplete or as a stepping stone towards further study.

    Number one has an incredible memory. Does that imply a knowledge of birds in this case? Does number two possess the same knowledge or more?

    A friend of mine had a terrific memory and he wrote a philosophy exam one time where he literally quoted pages of excerpts from the Gita as an answer to a philosophical question. Needless to say he didn't do very well when it came to being marked. I'm only mentioning this because I think knowledge has a lot more to do with what you do with it. Simply memorizing a book only makes you a copy of the original. I could say a book contains as much knowledge as the person who memorizes it.

    Is memory knowledge? A person with an excellent memory, are they knowledgeable? Does knowledge require more than a memory?


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  3. #2  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Memory is about recall and recollection. Knowledge mandates understanding and application to future unknowns.


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  4. #3  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Memory is about recall and recollection. Knowledge mandates understanding and application to future unknowns.
    I agree with you 100% but if went up to the guy who memorized the book and asked about some specific then he could quote sections pertaining to the subject more readily and easily than the person who uses the book for reference. Is the ability to speak from memory often mistaken for being knowledgeable? Memory and knowledge combined seems like a good recipe for genius but is it? I think of the absent minded professor who knows a good theory but forgets to wear his pants during lecture. Or the idiot savant, a la Rainman, memorizing phone books yet lacking basic knowledge.

    I'll throw this into the mix. How do you think God has managed his knowledge? Has He applied it correctly? Would God require a memory?
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  5. #4 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Let's say there was only one book in the world and only two people who could read it. For the sake of conversation the book is about birds. One person reads it and memorizes every page and could tell anyone who asks exactly what each page contains. The second person reads the book, doesn't memorize a single page but uses the book as a reference in order to learn more about birds.

    There's a completeness associated with the first person, the book is read and that's it. Not so for our second reader who deems the tome incomplete or as a stepping stone towards further study.

    Number one has an incredible memory. Does that imply a knowledge of birds in this case? Does number two possess the same knowledge or more?

    A friend of mine had a terrific memory and he wrote a philosophy exam one time where he literally quoted pages of excerpts from the Gita as an answer to a philosophical question. Needless to say he didn't do very well when it came to being marked. I'm only mentioning this because I think knowledge has a lot more to do with what you do with it. Simply memorizing a book only makes you a copy of the original. I could say a book contains as much knowledge as the person who memorizes it.

    Is memory knowledge? A person with an excellent memory, are they knowledgeable? Does knowledge require more than a memory?
    what if the book gets lost or destroyed the second person would be at a disadvantage
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  6. #5  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    I'll throw this into the mix. How do you think God has managed his knowledge? Has He applied it correctly? Would God require a memory?
    God is almost certainly a delusion of the human mind. Are you asking me how the human mind has applied knowledge?
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    I'll throw this into the mix. How do you think God has managed his knowledge? Has He applied it correctly? Would God require a memory?
    God is almost certainly a delusion of the human mind. Are you asking me how the human mind has applied knowledge?
    No but that's an interesting take. We've managed to apply God(s) to nearly all the society's of the world without a single shred of knowledge. Currently it appears as if belief plays a more important role in our applications than actual knowledge. Weird!

    Getting back to God....if you believe then you must accept that what you see is God's application of His knowledge. This is it, for better or worse, the best He could do. Out of all that is possible God came up with the idea of little monkey people having dominion over an insignificant speck of dust in a vast universe.

    Since it is God's application of His knowledge of everything, it must be perfect. If so then am I not far off suggesting that we as humans are eventually going to come to the same conclusion once the last smidgen of knowledge is gained? IOW all the knowledge in the universe should lead to a recreation of everything we're experiencing now.

    Of course people will say our knowledge is limited to this universe and going beyond that is impossible. I wonder if the day ever comes when humanity has no more knowledge to gain, what we will do with it. We know what God did with His.

    As for God having a memory I don't know. What good is it? What's to memorize? Unless in technological terms God is programmed with a pre-installed memory. But to suggest that might mean God doesn't know everything, there something else beyond Him. :wink:
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  8. #7 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    One person reads it and memorizes every page and could tell anyone who asks exactly what each page contains. The second person reads the book, doesn't memorize a single page but uses the book as a reference in order to learn more about birds.

    Is memory knowledge? A person with an excellent memory, are they knowledgeable? Does knowledge require more than a memory?
    Theres a difference between knowing 'how' to do something and knowing 'what' you are doing.

    memorizing the answers tells you 'how' to answer the question but it doesnt tell you 'what' your answers mean.
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  9. #8 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Is memory knowledge? A person with an excellent memory, are they knowledgeable? Does knowledge require more than a memory?
    You are defining memory very narrowly. Knowing where to find information when you need it, is much more important than you personally having it already memorized. I think it was Howard Hughes that said he was the smartest man alive, because he could pay for any information he needed to do what he wanted to do.

    But there is a lot to be said for having a good memory when you are still in school. A good one sure makes life easier and does much to enhance your social life.
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  10. #9 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    But there is a lot to be said for having a good memory when you are still in school. A good one sure makes life easier and does much to enhance your social life.
    How hard is it to discern a knowledgeable person from someone with just a good memory? Let's say during normal conversation or perhaps even during discussion on this forum. Do you ever get the impression that some people here may only be operating from memory?

    I know the internet is at everyone's fingertips but to risk taking information from that media and making it your own could make one a laughingstock or cause loss of status. If one is in possession of a good memory but is otherwise incapable of applying it in the real world then would not that person feel more comfortable on a forum where the subjects deal with his/her history of retention? Do forums provide ample opportunity to display one's recollective power and disguise it as expertise?
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  11. #10 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    How hard is it to discern a knowledgeable person from someone with just a good memory? Let's say during normal conversation or perhaps even during discussion on this forum. Do you ever get the impression that some people here may only be operating from memory?
    I suppose it can somewhat hard to tell unless you are always deliberately looking for the tell tail signs. But what about a knowledgeable person that has a busy life and has stretched himself a bit thin on this and maybe a couple of other forums. He uses his memory to help him quickly skim an answer more posts than he should and his responses don't really get the attention they deserve. Would you be able to tell that person or would you try and figure a way to let them learn that lesson for themselves?

    I know the internet is at everyone's fingertips but to risk taking information from that media and making it your own could make one a laughingstock or cause loss of status. If one is in possession of a good memory but is otherwise incapable of applying it in the real world then would not that person feel more comfortable on a forum where the subjects deal with his/her history of retention? Do forums provide ample opportunity to display one's recollective power and disguise it as expertise?
    Anytime you take someone else's ideas and information and make them your own without giving credit, you are taking a risk of being found out. As far as disguising a good memory as expertise goes, I just can't relate, as I have never had a good memory to work with. But I have tried to figure out why some people spend as much time on forums as they do. Makes me wonder if they have a life outside of these forums. While forums can be quite useful and can add another dimension to your life, I can see how they might become addicting, almost everybody using fictitious user names can become something they are not in real life.
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  12. #11 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    How hard is it to discern a knowledgeable person from someone with just a good memory? Let's say during normal conversation or perhaps even during discussion on this forum. Do you ever get the impression that some people here may only be operating from memory?
    I suppose it can somewhat hard to tell unless you are always deliberately looking for the tell tail signs.
    Interesting you should mention tell tale signs. One of the signs I look for is a lengthy OP or response post. I just can't understand why someone feels obligated to give us everything they know about a certain subject first, rather than holding back information and using it to answer questions on the subject at a later time. Are they just spouting off what they know, without having the ammunition to support it?

    Or someone offers an alternative position and is immediately set on fire by those-in-the-know, it's usually associated with name calling and derogatory remarks. Personally I am dubious at that point and usually don't pay much attention to the retort. I end up thinking the insulter is again, just spouting off what they know without really getting into an explanation or something that might be helpful to the rest of us.

    My guard also goes up when a post is so full of scientific jargon that you'd need at least a glossary of terms to know exactly what they're referring to, let alone trying to explain. The assumption that the forum 's 12000+ are all sitting here with science degrees would not be made by a legitimate scientist, but I can definitely see a pseudo-scientist or someone disguising themselves as knowledgeable making such a mistake.
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  13. #12 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    [quote="zinjanthropos"]
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance
    I suppose it can somewhat hard to tell unless you are always deliberately looking for the tell tail signs.
    Interesting you should mention tell tale signs. One of the signs I look for is a lengthy OP or response post. I just can't understand why someone feels obligated to give us everything they know about a certain subject first, rather than holding back information and using it to answer questions on the subject at a later time. Are they just spouting off what they know, without having the ammunition to support it?
    Can we call this a type 1

    Or someone offers an alternative position and is immediately set on fire by those-in-the-know, it's usually associated with name calling and derogatory remarks. Personally I am dubious at that point and usually don't pay much attention to the retort. I end up thinking the insulter is again, just spouting off what they know without really getting into an explanation or something that might be helpful to the rest of us.
    Type 2

    My guard also goes up when a post is so full of scientific jargon that you'd need at least a glossary of terms to know exactly what they're referring to, let alone trying to explain. The assumption that the forum 's 12000+ are all sitting here with science degrees would not be made by a legitimate scientist, but I can definitely see a pseudo-scientist or someone disguising themselves as knowledgeable making such a mistake.
    Type 3

    Then there are some who set themselves up as expert knowledgeable forum bullies that think it's their job to prevent discussions of alternative ideas. After all, every time a forum scene is created by name calling intimidation, it makes others not want to get involved and all those lurkers that are still thinking about joining the forum, decide to try somewhere else. Tell tail signs are virtually no productive dialog, and some times double teaming the target poster by a bully want-a-be tag along to the primary bully.

    Type 4
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  14. #13 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
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    zinj,
    I've been following this thread since its inception, trying to figure out what you were saying that was wrong: your observations did not gel for me. I believe the issue is that you are completely ignoring process. You are not considering the use of knowledge. Knowing something, either through memorisation, or reference takes a poor second place to being able to use that knowledge.

    You might argue that we can memorise principles then apply these, but I suggest a more meaningful way of referring to that process is to say that we understand the principles. Only true understanding allows effective use of the principles applied to the knowledge, however gathered.

    In short, you have missed the third leg of the tripod and your knowledge memory dichotomy is unstable.


    Change of topic: on the basis of your tell tale signs, I am operating only from memory. Wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Do you ever get the impression that some people here may only be operating from memory?
    I suppose it can somewhat hard to tell unless you are always deliberately looking for the tell tail signs.
    Interesting you should mention tell tale signs. One of the signs I look for is a lengthy OP or response post. I just can't understand why someone feels obligated to give us everything they know about a certain subject first, rather than holding back information and using it to answer questions on the subject at a later time.
    Perhaps because they, like me, do not believe in withholding information; they believe information is to be shared, not hoarded; they believe it is better to explain the point as fully as they are able, rather than wait for repeated opportunities to prove how smart they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Or someone offers an alternative position and is immediately set on fire by those-in-the-know, it's usually associated with name calling and derogatory remarks.
    Too often the alternative position has all the substance of a hard vacuum. It is offered by someone ignorant of science, ignorant of the scientific method, wholly ignorant of the field in which they are positing their alternative. Entertaining poorly conceived, unsubstantiated, wild speculations by treating the idea with respect gives such nonsense way too much credibility. The science neophyte is easily seduced by such nonsense unless it is firmly stamped on.

    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    My guard also goes up when a post is so full of scientific jargon that you'd need at least a glossary of terms to know exactly what they're referring to, let alone trying to explain. The assumption that the forum 's 12000+ are all sitting here with science degrees would not be made by a legitimate scientist, but I can definitely see a pseudo-scientist or someone disguising themselves as knowledgeable making such a mistake.
    1. Some discussion demands the use of 'jargon', since that jargon has been developed to allow precise discussion with minimum words.
    2. If the casual reader has an interest in the subject they should be using that as an opportunity to broaden their knowledge and their vocabulary. I welcome the use of unfamiliar terms in post because of the opportunity it affords me to learn.
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  15. #14 Re: Knowledge vs Memory 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    zinj,
    I've been following this thread since its inception, trying to figure out what you were saying that was wrong: your observations did not gel for me. I believe the issue is that you are completely ignoring process. You are not considering the use of knowledge. Knowing something, either through memorisation, or reference takes a poor second place to being able to use that knowledge.

    You might argue that we can memorise principles then apply these, but I suggest a more meaningful way of referring to that process is to say that we understand the principles. Only true understanding allows effective use of the principles applied to the knowledge, however gathered.
    I agreed with inow in post #3 that understanding & application was what separated memory from knowledge. For instance, there's a difference between memorizing an instruction manual on how to use a new camera compared to someone who knows the principles of photography and can basically operate any camera put in front of them.

    As for the topic change I don't blame anyone for thinking I'm singling them out. Wouldn't it be just great if every member was either a true scientist or one in the making. However the forum is in the public domain and as such is open to anyone. Many join to learn something no doubt. Are there charlatans? Absolutely. Can't afford to be naive but important to soldier on.

    Even if everyone was legitimate, the tell tale signs I alluded to in an earlier post are just personal observations. I don't see this forum akin to a coffee shop where scientists gather during the day for the sole purpose of showering each other with what they know. In fact the ones I know are generally mum when inquiries are made about their current research.

    Scientists operate on principle also. They understand the risk associated with committal to an idea. I for one cannot see a legitimate scientist risking humiliation on an internet forum even with a username...there's too much at stake. Is it done anyway...more than likely it is. I would think the likelihood of a genuine scientist extolling his views here is much less intimidating than writing a paper and having it reviewed by his/her peers. Anonymity offers some protection at least. Expecting to talk only with scientists here is a pipe dream.

    I understand that a scientist would want to protect against wrong information being introduced. It's like religion in some respects. There are members here that always disagree complete with insults attached and we, the general membership, have to decipher who is speaking the known truth(always subject to change). How can I take anyone seriously when they lace their rebuttals with derogatory remarks, unless such infantile behavior is the property of scientists in general. I hope not. I think the biggest winner in the forum as far as science goes is psychology.

    Anyway this thread has taken on a different life. Memory and knowledge wasn't doing too well on its own so nothing like a little controversy. I'm not ashamed nor am I worried, personal views are always subject to rebuttal and isn't this what it's all about, the underlying principle of internet discussion forums? I'll keep introducing topics and I'll keep injecting my personal observations and continue to hope that I will being able to discern the genuine from the fake and possibly learn something in the process. Just wish more people would do the same.
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  16. #15  
    Forum Bachelors Degree 15uliane's Avatar
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    I believe memory is knowledge, but unless you can act, reason and think about/upon the memory, it is worthless.
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