On knowledge, wisdom and a good bullshit detector {Just Write 8}

Good Sunday morning!

I am sitting here by my kitchen window, coffee at my elbow and browsing my morning blog posts.  The washing machine and the dryer are both on and I can barely hear the radio over the noise. Not that I’m paying attention, but I enjoy Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition, and CBC is always muttering away in the background of my life, whether I’m paying attention or not. Then, suddenly, some words made their way past the mechanical white noise of the dryer, and I heard this: wisdom is the perspective that knowledge gives us in how we live our lives.

Stopped me in my tracks. Caused me to tilt my ear toward the under-the-counter-mounted radio, like my little dog does when he hears something interesting. Actually caused me to set my (now empty) coffee cup down and pause.

What is wisdom? Wisdom is that which comes from the knowledge we have accumulated throughout our lives, and the perspective which we apply to it.

What is knowledge? Knowledge is understanding as opposed to opinion

  1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
    “a thirst for knowledge”
    • That is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information.
      “the transmission of knowledge”
    • Philosophy
      true, justified belief; certain understanding, as opposed to opinion.
    2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

It is knowledge and wisdom working together that make a good bullshit detector. We all need a good bullshit detector. It’s what causes us to ask questions. It’s what allows us to think critically. To look beyond face value to what lies behind. To look below the surface. To look beyond an acceptable answer and discover the real answer. A good bullshit detector protects us from charlatans. It prevents us from accepting defeat too soon.

In some ways, you could say that wisdom is simply having a good bullshit detector.

Think about it.

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you. I suppose I did, too. I’ve just never thought about it quite this way.


  1. Hmmm, well, I think I can agree with you that having a good bullshit detecter (GBD, for short?) is one aspect of wisdom. But I think that’s only part of the story. For example, knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet in a given conversation could also be considered wisdom. Knowing which battles are worth fighting, or which action will be most productive in the long term, is certainly something that comes from knowledge AND perspective. But there may be no GBD involved in this situation at all. Yes?

  2. My Mother in Law had her own words of wisdom to impart on the subject of bullshit. She used to say that she could always tell if what someone was saying was the truth by looking at their eyes. Shifty eyes meant non truth. Very deep subject. I wonder if knowledge brings freedom or makes you feel more trapped if you cannot do anything with the knowledge.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!