#AtoZChallenge – Y is for Yi Ding

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. -Stephen HawkingSince book two of Red Slaves brings in the Chinese angle on dragons, I thought it would be appropriate to comment on a Chinese word: Yi Ding means “certain” in the sense of “fixed, given, particular, or necessarily.” It’s the trap Anne falls into: She considers herself well-educated and firmly grounded in reality. So when she’s forced to face the fact that there IS another perspective on the world her first response is to retreat into herself. And become rather a bother to the people around her.

She becomes annoying for exactly the reason Stephen Hawking’s quote is genius: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

It’s one of those cautionary tales about how certain we can be about being right–while we are, in fact, wrong. One of my favorite TED talks is by “wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz, who asks a question about what it feels like to be wrong. Her audience falls into her trap, describing the embarrassment and pain we’ve all felt at one point or another. Schulz points out… really… that’s the feeling of realizing we’ve been wrong. We were wrong before we discovered we were wrong, and it felt an awful lot like… being right.

So while Anne faces her wrongness with little grace, my invitation to my readers is follow Schulz’s invitation to look out at the universe’s vastness with the eyes of wonder that allow us to say, from time to time, “I don’t know.”

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