Can too much knowledge put our heads in a box?

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by daiquiri, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    The question came to me (or rather, was implicitly suggested) when I saw this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0MZzFT3XpQ&feature=relmfu . It is the Spider Boat, which was already discussed somewhere in this forum.

    But this is not a topic about the Spider Boat. It is about an interesting line of thought expressed from time-point 7:48 in the video. Please hear what he is saying at 8:39:
    "If you are very knowledgeable in a field, it's very difficult to get unstuck. You are really trapped by this (knowledge) - you're in the box.
    ...
    But if you start from outside the box... Nobody told me that I couldn't do it, and so I did it."​

    So, what do you folks think about this statement?

    Can a too-deep knowledge (or formal training) sometimes tie us too strongly to existing and proven schemes, thus making us unable to see innovative solutions for common problems?

    Can a too-deep knowledge make us too wary, lead us too look only at the problematic side of things when analyzing a new idea, and thus let our inner naysayer prevail over our positively-thinking and innovative self?

    Cheers
     
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  2. eyschulman
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    eyschulman Senior Member

    This of course is the problem with the major world religions. They have all the answers and all the solutions and knowlege and thinking or living outside the box is sinful or blasphemy. It's no accident that this is so. There must be something basic about our type that makes us want to think we know all the answers. There may even be a few boat designers who fall into that catagory Unlikely any of those are on this site.
     
  3. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Better a box than a basket.
     
  4. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    It is dogma, not true knowledge, that imposes limits. The dogma that 'the market' is supreme and not to be tampered with by regulation, that managed to insinuate itself in the 90's and beyond, to become the reigning orthodoxy, is now seen to be not such a great idea for the bulk of humanity.
     
  5. mcollins07
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    mcollins07 Senior Member

    Yes, formal education or even professional mentoring teaches you "how it is supposed to be done", which can be good and bad. If creativity is needed, it may be valuable to give someone time to re-invint the wheel.

    It has been argued that children develop approaches to problem-solving before the age of six years, so it is important to give them stimulating environments, but not formal education.

    In a research environment working with people of the same discipline, everone tends to communicate very well. They have the common vocabulary. They will be familiar with the same approaches to a particular problem. Rarely, but occasionally, a problem occurs which forces people to go look for new methodologies. These new methods are typically developed by people facing the same problem but without the same education.

    ~ michael
     
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  6. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Indeed, someone once said the greatness of Great Britain in it's glory days was the tolerance and even encouragement of eccentricity, which is said to have nurtured more than a few creatives.
     
  7. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Every once and a while, an uneducated person comes up with something innovative that can pass muster, but most of the time, it's a skilled and educated person that dreams up the new stuff.

    Thinking out of the box is a mind set, that isn't controlled by education or expertise levels. It's more of a personality thing. Some tend to do this a lot, while others are content to color inside the lines. Bolger was well known for this and it was a personality driven need for him, of course with preconceived notions about the goals he set.

    If you look at the major industry innovations, they do seem to come from folks who constantly look around and have the skill sets to extrapolate and homogenize the data into something new. This is precisely what higher education teaches students to do, besides the major specific fundamentals. In short, a well tooled brain typically envisions new and seemingly out of the box solutions. The less educated among us, are at a severe disadvantage in this regard. So, I disagree with the basic premise of this thread.
     
  8. eyschulman
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    eyschulman Senior Member

    Educated is a funny word. There is education and then there is education. Is a individual who studies a two thousand year old text for 20 years and finds all the answers to life in that text or similar scrolls educated? Is an individual who attends a modern school or university that adheres to rigid boxed ideas truely educated? Educated is a funny word I personally like enlightened to be epoxy bonded to that funny word. I also like the idea of educated-enlightened and outside the box thinking as a combination.
     
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  9. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    I suppose it gets down to whether there is such a thing as an original idea, I guess the quantum leap type change is a rarity compared to the incremental improvement. If everything is done by the book, the book would never change.
     
  10. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Open minded/close minded

    Attitude.

    Can't it all be described by ones attitude?

    What makes attitude? Many, many variables including life experience, upbringing, luck, hard wiring (genetics) who knows - who cares, it all boils down to attitude.

    Good question.

    Interesting answers.

    -Tom
     
  11. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Knowledge, facts and dogma are not the same, though frequently confused. There is a place for all, with the appropriate balance varying with the situation. Education sometimes emphasizes dogma and facts over knowledge, but that should not be taken as an indictment of all education.
     
  12. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Simple look at the succesful " Scow" form, Mini transat racer. A fast oddball that beat every high budget ,professionally drawn , state of the art mini .

    I think its very difficult for an engineer to work with an open mind when solving problems. Education gets in the way.
     
  13. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Depends on the engineer. I've worked with engineers who won't vary at all from what they regard as standard practice. But I've also worked with engineers who alway want to do something new and unique even when it's not as good as a more conventional design.
     
  14. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Its true that " the way it is" is often chosen as the solution, regardless of its engineering merits.

    "The way it is " will be familiar , buildable , robust and is a know cost

    The roadblock to things new will always be.... is this new innovation , marketable ?

    I think its this unknown of marketability that retards many innovative engineering solutions.
     

  15. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    when you look at the major scientific advancements its pretty obvious that the majority come from people who although educated are outside the standard educational processes.

    when it comes to design often times a fresh pair of eyes is the best creator. Simply "knowing" what its "supposed" to look like can really get in the way. I've designed a lot of stuff, the larger stuff typically being home related in some way. Its the ability to step away from the norm thats important. Some environments are more conducive to that than others.

    For instance our public educational system is famous for not just weeding out the dumb kids but also the smart, unique, creative, intelligent kids as well. Unless these kids get a second chance at higher education they can easily end up in mediocre positions. With the more average ones going on to higher education. Certainly not a situation conducive to our most creative being found in the standard educational locations.

    all in all I'd have to agree with him
     
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