If the opportunity avails itself, I will buy the first round.

I was thinking about two distinct things. With the cults, I was thinking about true believers in unregulated financial markets, who maintained the belief in spite of evidence to the contrary, till the bottom completely fell out of the markets. Calling what they believed knowledge doesn’t do anyone a service, in my view.

On the new directions, the thought is that learning and knowledge creation is something like a sine wave. There are periods of intense interest and growth, then that tapers off followed by a lull. The next upswing might very well involve others and initially be the product of an individual or a small group. In a not fully appropriate statistical analogy, groups often regress to the mean. The next new thing comes from an outlier. At least that’s my sense of it.

Also, on the point of where the bar should be for the word knowledge, I suppose that depends on context. For decision making and management, I think it should be high, so we appreciate how much we don’t know, and view setbacks as opportunities for improvements. In this setting, if we used the low bar interpretation, every mistake we’d make would be a reminder that we’re a ditz for not having anticipated correctly ahead of time and give a false sense that perfect solutions are possible.

Having a mature view about uncertainty is hard. And it is important to acquire. So even in the classroom setting perhaps the bar should be high, but I can see a flip argument that the labeling of the activity could impact student engagement and anything that encourages that needs to considered seriously.