What Makes an Educated Man?

Was recently shown this interesting article on the 3 characteristics of what makes an educated man (here), and according to the writer, here are the 3 things:

“An educated man has been defined as one who can entertain himself, one who can entertain another, and one who can entertain a new idea.”

1. One who can entertain himself

“Only those who want everything done for them are bored.” –Billy Graham

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“Of course these days, with an iPhone always at hand, amusing yourself isn’t very difficult. Anyone can surf or text the boredom away. The real test for the modern educated man is the ability to entertain himself when technology isn’t available or is not socially acceptable to whip out. Can you entertain yourself at a boring meeting, while camping, while conversing at a dinner party? The educated man can, and he does it, ironically enough, by retaining an important ability of his childhood—curiosity. The educated man is insatiably curious about the world around him and other people. In any situation, he sees something to learn, study, and observe.”

2. One who can entertain another

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“He is able to do this because of the breadth of his reading and his experiences. He has an arsenal of interesting tales at the ready about his travels and endeavors. And he’s up on the latest news stories and interesting scientific breakthroughs.  No matter the demographics of the group he’s with, he knows a story that will appeal to them.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example of an educated man who could entertain others. Though Lincoln only had one year of formal education, he read voraciously and dedicated himself to lifelong learning. The result was the ability to talk to anybody about anything and leave them entertained. Like all truly great men he was also a good listener.”

3. One who can entertain a new idea

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This might seem like the easiest one…how hard is it to be open-minded, right?

Well recent research into the way our minds work has shown that far from being the rational beings we flatter ourselves into believing we are, unbeknownst to us, our unconscious is constantly shaping our thoughts, beliefs, and motivations in irrational ways. For example, because of the ‘backfire effect’. when we’re presented with evidence that contradicts our beliefs, instead of changing those beliefs, they become even more entrenched. The ‘confirmation bias’ makes us seek out and only pay attention to new information that confirms our preexisting notions, while we let information that contradicts those notions go over our heads. And the ‘sunk-cost fallacy’ pushes us to stick with a less sensible or desirable option instead of choosing something better, because we’ve already invested time, money, or emotion in it.

In other words, our unconscious minds see our personal ideas as a great treasure, and competing ideas as would-be looters; when they’re detected by the unconscious’ security system, it unleashes the dogs and locks the gate.

Entertaining a new idea doesn’t necessarily mean accepting it and changing your beliefs every time you’re presented with a different take on things. As it has been said, “Be opened-minded, but not so open-minded that your brain falls out.” The educated man has an easier time in seeing this. His varied experiences and studies have given him multiple opportunities to see how the information he has learned has changed his opinions–even if it took those new ideas a long time to be invited in. The sheltered man who only interacts with people just like him and only reads things that confirm his preconceived ideas will not have these experiences to draw upon, and will thus greet all new ideas like menacing strangers, shaking his fist at them from the safety of the other side of his crocodile-infested moat.

Interesting stuff! =D

 

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~ by irwin on March 16, 2013.

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