You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird … So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard P. Feynman
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backwardâ€”reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
One thing is that I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs, in different degrees of certainty, about different things. But I’m not absolutely sure of anything and of many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit, if I can’t figure it out, then I go onto something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
Richard P. Feynman
And then, something totally sketchy happens and what you thought you didn’t know you think you might have known and some other things you thought you didn’t know you think that you might know for sure but some other things that you don’t know if you know or don’t know you realize you might know.