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Master the Meta

About 6 years ago I wrote a blog post titled Mastering Multiple Mountains where I spoke about the interesting dynamic of interaction that happens between people with different levels of understanding of any given concept.

The difficulties of engaging an exchange of knowledge between these different levels of understanding are what make the art of diplomacy and consensus building an art. The need to constantly gauge the state of knowledge of the others participating in the conversation is required and is made more efficient the more any given conversant has multiple mastery of different areas of potential conversational exploration.

A corollary to this skill that I've been considering is highlighted by the advantage to communication enabled by those who master multiple mountains of knowledge and that is being able to consider a meta analysis of a given discussion. Meta analysis is slightly different from simply gaining knowledge across different areas and being able to then illuminate relative ignorance between oneself and others in discussion as was the scope of the earlier article. Meta analysis also involves being able to shift perspective from ones own state of knowledge to that of the other and then to restrict the 'view' to consider the reasons why the other may be taking a line of argumentation. It is related but tangent to that earlier article.

In all types of engagement being able to master the meta is a powerful tool in exposing where one may be led to ruin by the very veracity of the data that they hold as basis for their expressed knowledge even if that data and knowledge has veracity behind it, failing to engage in this shifting of perspective via meta analysis could lead to ruin.

For example being oblivious to the social mores that may be in place when discussing subject matter in public in certain cultures could lead to perceptions of great offense which in some places could make one subject to violent response without even realizing it.

Science fiction has often used this potential schism in social norms as fodder for story lines from Star Trek on but it is a critical failing of making assumptions about the perspectives and expectations of others irrespective of the state of knowledge that may be had by different participants in a conversation. So in attempts to relay information it is important to both recognize the differential knowledge sets that we have compared to those we are communicating with and also be able to inhabit those knowledge sets in order to guide our approach to building consensus...sort of a rudder in the water to the angling of a wind born mast on the boat of our path through the sea of ignorance toward a common island of truth.


Moulton said…
The more analogies, metaphors, parables, and abstract models one can marshal, the richer is one's insight into an instance of a recurring thematic model.

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