Why Knowledge is NOT Power

I learned a new word a few days back:


It is the false sensation that your cell phone is vibrating when of course it is not. But there is no ring tone, there is no phone vibration and no one’s calling. This sensation, there is an actual word for it. And I thought I was the only one sensing (or sometimes even hearing) my phone ring.

This in turn reminded me of a post I wrote some time back, about rats.

You’d think that you are the only one, till you find out that there is tribe, a group or even a whole community of people who feel exactly like you do! You won’t know this until you reach out and do different things or do things differently.

And the first rule to learn more, to do more, is always to question the rule itself. Not to be a nonconformist but to understand the rule better (and make a better one if possible).

So when people tell me that Knowledge is Power, I had to ‘test’ this out, had to question this supposed gem of wisdom.

Knowledge is Power, really?

OK, so learning about fauxcellarm has not armed me with untold powers (I can not even pronounce the word). But more to the point, I actually do not think knowledge is power.

Yes, knowledge does not empower you.




Lack of knowledge, on the other hand, can and actually does cripple you though.

And this is a fine distinction here.

It’s not that knowledge is power, it’s that lack of a few critical pieces of information can be devastating to your enterprise.

So, as a safeguard, you dive in and try to gather in as much information about a specific project as you possibly can. So far, so good. But then information overload kicks in. This is inevitable unless you take action. Because action will give you feedback. And then that feedback information will serve as the critical piece of information. And so on.

This is 80/20 principle revisited, folks. A very small set of knowledge results in massive success.

The world belongs to the bold, make no mistake. So whatever you learn, apply it, test it, launch an experiment, do something with it.

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George S Patton

If any piece of information is not directly applicable to your project, it is worthless. In fact, it is not worthless, it is actually harmful, leading to such dreaded conditions as analysis paralysis.

In fact, what many people would say is laziness, is in fact one form or the other of information overload (so, how many people do you know who ‘keep studying’ to avoid ‘finding work’ etc?).

I wish you all the best, and now I gotta run because I think I hear my phone ringing.

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  1. TomasKojar

    Thank you Momekh for making such a statement for truth seekers to stand by and wonder about their personal unchallenged beliefs lying under the surface and still controling our actions,which led to contradictory to what we wanted results but congruent to what we believed about the nature of the world. Knowledge in itself is not power it is the continuous seeking and recording of knowledge that leads to powerful decisions and in turn results b/c knowledge is a fancy term of information that has been congruent to what we experience and reason so far but not necessarily for the future. One wonders what is power, and one answer is the ability to controls one environment.How else can you best control nature?Well if you can predict how it will behave in the future and why then you can take actions to influence or use that to your advantage. The next question is more knowledge more power?Yes, b/c as we are in one world any more knowledge we acquire it simply a more refined view of the same world.There is no separation of knowledge in human minds and understanding.Then after all, as far as we know the mind has a virtually infinite capacity to keep track of properly recorded information,thus the mind is indeed a potent learning machine. The only reason one could think acquiring more knowledge can be a waste of time is when learning is not self directed.To tie it up with the importance of joy in work as it is a necessary motivational factor, learning and freedom of expression are tied together,now if someone is in the dilema due to work environments to let his learning experience to others’ people hands then learning will become an obligation where efficiency is the priority (faster worker).However, when the environment is directed to team results and the work is heavily cognitive, then learning must be a self-directed process b/c for the individual to produce any results, he/she must be driven
    by the joy of ownership and for this to happen the information put into the product must be extracted and synthesized in that person’s mind too.The priority then is effectiveness,so the question of acquiring useless information is not even on the table b/c the syntesis of initially unrelated info with the rest of the data, can lead to new connections and in turn interesting results.People should be encouraged to expand their minds and reach for new realms of knowledge we were not built to be machines but builders/creators of our environment. It is simply physics that the human body cannot sustain external control as it will suffocate the drive for personal goal satisfaction.

    Thank you,Tomas

    • Yes, effectiveness is the priority, which in turn can only be measured after we have taken some action.

      Thank you for your detailed, well-thought out comments, Tomas. 🙂

  2. TomasKojar

    One thing to remember is that action is a form of learning and in fact people aimed at learning are active both in the inside and outside.People who need fixes like the 80/20 are trying to force themselves to work and it either doesn’t work or success comes but the emotional buildup disturbs other areas of their lives. It is simple physics of the body,it will follow the path of least resistance and doing what you are passionate about fulfills that criteria.As Dan pink eloquently noted, autonomy,mastery and a sense of purpose are criteria of activities that will reduce them down to those that will make a human come alive.The confusion comes when misinformation is blindly followed and it is removed when reasoning goes the reality of the so called success principles.

  3. Dateline 1597: Sir Francis Bacon, a famous English author, courtier, & philosopher said “Knowledge is Power”. We all refer to this famous saying. http://bit.ly/kqzXZn

    • Thanks for the comment Mr Hammad!
      It is about context. When we say and repeat and re-repeat something, the context doesn’t get explained. I have tried to do that here, that knowledge is power Only because the lack of knowledge is devastating. So we must acquire knowledge NOT for knowledge sake, but to apply it. And I quote the last line from your own article that your link points to:

      “And here is the conclusion: Start doing the above from today onwards. Don’t wait. ACT!”

      Thank you again for the comment, sir.

  4. What an insightful post, Momekh! I know I’ve often suffered from information overload. In fact, I’ve recently been toying with a new blog idea, but am getting caught up in the details. This post has definitely shed light on what’s really going on = analysis paralysis.

    Thanks for reminding me about the Pareto principle. I hadn’t even though of relating it to this! =) Loved this post, friend! =)

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