Monday, 9 January 2006

Things we all should have learned by now

Here's something to ponder as you gaily engage in debate: How much do you really need to know in order for your opinion to be an informed one? Not all opinions are equally valid -- uninformed opinion is less equal than most. In the 21st Century, there are some basics that an educated person really should know if they're to be considered educated enough to pound sand, let alone to survive in and comment knowledgably upon the issues that dominate our lives.

A friend has succinctly summed up on another list just what those basics are:
I believe that a well-rounded education includes a knowledge of statistics, a knowledge of the basics of differential and integral calculus, a knowledge of basic molecular biology and evolutionary biology, the basics of physics and chemistry, a reasonable grasp of the basic rules of logic, a reasonable understanding of macro and microeconomics including supply and demand, a basic knowledge of human psychology, a reasonable survey of Western Literature, a basic understanding of the history of Western Civilization, an in-depth understanding of the Constitutional heritage of the United States, a survey of Western philosophy, the ability to read sheet music and some knowledge of our musical heritage and the basics of at least one foreign language.
To that list I might add an understanding of basic ethics and the theory of rights, and a survey of the history of Western art. How does that sound to you?


  1. An understanding of the history of the locality in which you live.

  2. Yeah, true enough, Tim. As my old Irish boss used to say, "Know your history, boy."

    Of course, if you're fortunate, that knowledge will be part of the a basic understanding of the history of Western Civilization. :-)

  3. I think some knowledge of comparative law and different legal systems would be far more valuable than "an in-depth understanding of the Constitutional heritage of the United States" unless you happen to live there- and actually, even though I'm an atheist, a reasonable knowledge of at least the basic tenets of the worlds main religions should be in there too.

    In fact I wouldn't consider a person really educated if all they knew about was Western culture, literature, history, music etc. Education is supposed to open your mind and an educated person should be open to exploring and being enriched by other cultures too.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.