Thursday, January 04, 2007

Things We Thought We Knew

I received a great book for Christmas - "The Book of General Ignorance"...a spin off from the comedy quiz, hosted by Stephen Fry..."Q.I." It contains a cornucopia of things we all take for granted...or think that we know...and then puts us right.

For example, what has a three-second memory? If you answered goldfish...you would be utterly wrong.

Cameleons don't change colour to match their background (they change colour according to their emotional state)

Lemmings don't commit suicide over cliffs - that's a fabrication invented by a 1958 Walt Disney film.

Mozart's middle name was not Amadeus...it was Wolfgang.

Think you know the number of the beast...666 right? Wrong. According to a recent translation of the oldest copy of the book of Revelation known to exist...it is 616.

How many senses does an average human have? Five...right? Wrong. To the normal five you should add thermoception (sense of heat on our skin), equibibrioception (our sense of balance), and nociception (our sense of pain). In fact some neurologists argue that there are up to 21 senses. (What about hunger, or thirst, or the sense of meaning, or language?)

In his trial, Socrates said, in effect, that his main role as a 'wise' man was to show others, through argument, that they were not as wise as they thought they were. He believed that the beginning of wisdom was the knowledge that we, in fact, know very little. Thomas Edison estimated that we know less than one millionth of one percent of about anything. Woody Allen has said that some drink deeply from the river of knowledge, but others only gargle.

The Bible has some interesting things to say about wisdom too: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," for example (Psalm 111).

Ponder these things....

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