Know What and Know How

The current world is one where information abounds. The flow of information moves so fast and increases so quickly that many have led themselves to believe that this extreme amount of information means that we have greater mastery over chance and uncertainty. However, the financial collapse of 2008 demonstrated quite aptly that there is a prolific difference between “Know What” and “Know How” when it comes to situations of volatility or uncertainty.

For those who have not been living in a cave for the last few years, volatility and uncertainty are an inextricable part of life that cannot be controlled with mathematic algorithms. This is where ‘know what’ has become woefully inept. By attempting to force reality into mathematical modely s, the purveyors of self-proclaimed intelligence place the entire world at the mercy of their algorithms. The pseudo-intellectual class has attempted to make itself “master of the universe” by publishing highly detailed forecasts built on nothing more than subjective assumptions that have been rolled into a quantitative model. The problem compounds even more when people demand that public policy be based on the output of these models.

This phenomenon results in a form of “Scientism” that emerges from a combination of mathematical techniques that are used as a justification for pushing subjective views or beliefs. The method for holding up these forecasts that border on religion are to use the ‘credentials’ of people who form the predictions as a method of insulating them from criticism. The implicit belief of “Know What” or “Scientism” religion is that only the elite possess the necessary intelligence for creating forecasts.

In contrast to this view, we have an emphasis on “Know How” or the viewpoint that nobody possesses the necessary knowledge to accurately predict the future. In this worldview, future trends represent the emergence of many people making independent decisions, and success is less about knowing what will happen and more about knowing how to make astute decisions.

The net effect of recent focus on “Know What” and econometric forecasts has been a de-facto regression toward medieval religion where the edicts of leaders are to be obeyed without any thought or question. In the current environment, just like the middle ages this phenomenon creates a tremendous opening for graft and corruption by those who construct the edicts that are handed down to the ‘little people’ who are expected to obey.

The challenge that most people face in the face of this conflict between “Know What” and “Know How” is that the promises of comfortable retirement made by the “Know What” apostles are quickly becoming revealed as vacuous and empty. The pension funds, trust accounts, and other means that politicians have used to purchase votes with public funds are not sufficiently capitalized to support the promises made to future retirees.

Ultimately, the only financial security available to regular people is to “Know What” is necessary for building a portfolio that is completely owned by them and free from the prying fingers of politicians, union bosses, and corporate executives. This stands contrary to the “Know What” religion, since it involves a departure from dependence on the pseudo-intellectual elite for people’s wellbeing. The unfortunate reality is that political power comes from influence, and dependence on the government places a tremendous amount of influence in the hands of those who run the government.

When going throughout your life, resist the temptations from hucksters and shysters who claim to have a ‘secret’ to financial successz that they will reveal only if you purchase their $6,000 system. These people are simply peddling false hope to people who are desperate for a way to improve their financial situation. Similarly, resist temptations to believe people who try to tell you that a particular pension fund will completely take care of your retirement needs, and that no other investment is necessary. These people are also playing on a desire to believe in financial security. In both cases, false hope is being sold to exercise influence over large groups of people.

Actively seek knowledge about the principles of success that will help you “Know How” to achieve your goals. Much of this information is available for a very low cost through your library, the internet, or other methods of distribution. The rub is that very few people will actively market the principles of success. Most people marketing information are trying to sell a ‘system’ that is based on some form of ill-conceived prediction model. In the end, your best alternative for creating a strong financial future is to build it yourself by practicing the principles of success.

Sincere Thanks,

Douglas J Utberg, MBA

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