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This was a somewhat challenging topic to take on in four minutes, so here's a little more explanation.

I'm not saying that we don't know things...we know lots of things. But particularly when it comes to social and cultural and economic stuff, we really don't. It's so hard to run experiments on the real world, that we tend to do the studies and then no one changes their mind and everyone explains the data in a different way.

But you can run the "Harry Potter" experiment again with different inputs because "Harry Potter" can only happen once.

Of course, there are people who are much better at guessing than other people because they know much more about the situations. People who understand, at least, what is and is not possible (which is an excellent place to start if you're trying to, say, create an independent Palestinian state.)

Same goes for running a business...you will never take the most successful course, because there are infinite courses and only one maximum one. But some people are very good at finding good courses because they understand their customers and their markets and their employees and have fairly accurate constructions of reality as it relates to their business.

But the idea that it is the responsibility of every person to have an opinion on everything that matters...and then cling to that opinion as an important part of their identity, sucks. I don't like it.

I would rather we discuss these things in terms of values, which is really where our opinions tend to arise from anyhow. So when asked "how do we create more jobs in America" we don't really try to answer that question. We try to answer the question "How do we create more jobs in America while promoting our own personal values?"

For things like "How do you end a war" or "How do you feed hungry people" or "How do you eliminate poverty?" I'm going to admit straight up that I don't know...and defer to the experts because they know a heck of a lot more than me. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. So, yay, I DON'T KNOW!!!
Good morning, John.

I don't know.

Say it with me.

I don't know.

Good god! It is liberating! I am a towering mountain of ignorance! I DON'T KNOW! 

Why is a plumber named Mario? Mario, the most well-known video game character in existance? 

I don't know.

Why are guitars shaped like this? 

[Hank makes weird noise]

Why is Iggy Azalea popular? 

Good lord, I have no idea.

I think that I know a lot of things, though when I play Pub Trivia with my friends, I'm surprisingly unhelpful.

But, the vast majority of things, VAAAAST majority, I don't know.

And not just because of the sheer number of things, but also the number of things that affect those things.

We live in an age where we are taught to believe that everything has a reason.

And so we observe the world, we see what happened, and then we define the thing that happened as the reason the thing happened.

Like we say, Harry Potter's popular because, uh, it took place in a school and it was well-written and we had a deep and unknown desire for silly wizards.

Which is the exact same thing as saying, "Harry Potter's popular because it's Harry Potter."

And then we think we solved it, and then when other books about wizards and schools that are well-written come out, we're like well, it's not Harry Potter.

Yeah, so it doesn't have all the attributes of Harry Potter, so it's not as popular as Harry Potter. We're really good at this.

Now, I'm glad that we have the desire to understand the world. That results in all sorts of great stuff.

We wanna know everything. We're humans. We're curious. And maybe it's our culture, maybe it's just humanity.

But, I think a lot of the time we end up mixing up thinking something with knowing something.

Suddenly, it's kinda expected that everyone in the world has an opinion on how to solve the Syrian Civil War and how to create more jobs in the United States and "What are the effects of cell phone use on the youth of today?"

Now, I know that I don't know, but somehow everyone else seems to know.

They all know differently from each other, but they all seem to know.

When you look at all deeply at this, you realize that people aren't basing their opinions on what they think is the best course of action or the actual best explanation for it. They're basing it on their values, and that's fine. It's what values are for, and values are great. 

But it might be a little silly to think that you've discovered the best possible course of action just because you figured out a way to turn your values into executable vision.

Now, these guesses are useful, tremendously useful. Weeeeeeee-eeeeee! [laughs]

We convert our amalgamated opinions into, like, reality.

That's the terrifying beauty of culture, and more specifically democracy. 

But, they are just guesses. 

No one knows the correct course of action. We will never take it because there are too many options.

What I'm saying is nobody's opinions are correct. In the world.

And yet, it's impossible not to tie your opinions to your concept of self. 

And often, people tie those things so closely together that they begin defending their guesses as if they're defending their very lives.

In a way, they are.

This is why it can be so impossible to talk about certain topics with certain people.

They've tied those suppositions to themselves so tightly with knots of narrative and constructed reality and values that there's just no untying it. 

And maybe, unsurprisingly, in those situations the best course of action is just to be friends.

Maybe even ask them about that thing that they've created because, to them, as it is to all of us, it's immensely valuable.

The world as we perceive it, as we've built it inside of ourselves, is a lie that we tell to ourselves, not out of deception, but out of necessity. We have no other choice. We simply cannot understand the world as it is. And so, we construct, and it's a useful construction. And it allows us to do many amazing things, but sometimes I just have to tell myself the thing that is definitely true, the truest things I can say, which is that I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. John, I'll see you on Tuesday. 

And often people tie those things so closely together thathehet-

So closely together that their...

So closely together that that it is...

So closely together that they depi... PPPpllblbll.

So closely together that the, that the, the, that the, the, that the, that the the, that they, the that da, the, that, the they the that the they, that, they they that the da the the they.