I counted. It’s 40 steps from the street below to my third floor flat. Mount Everest is 8,848 meters high. I remember. The population of India is more than a billion. I don’t know the exact figure. Nobody does. Do these numbers really matter? If I miscalculated the height of the tallest peak by a metre or two, would the polar caps melt? We may need to know the value of pi in geometry, 3.14159265358979323846… or more simply 22/7 (which my mathematician friend tells me is not the real value but a mere approximate). But otherwise are figures so important? And I’m not talking of the feminine type.
We often misunderstand information for knowledge. Kids and wannabe civil servants mug up the facts and figures. They might be helpful in passing exams. Because our examination system merely evaluates the degree of information. Information leads to knowledge, but not necessarily.
Do we then need to unnecessarily overburden the kids only with information and take the fun out of their childhood? The other day the security guard at our office was arguing with someone who claimed that a mouse could run faster than a speeding train and for 1600 kilometres at a stretch. That someone claimed that he had read about it in a book. I don’t know which book was that and what was it that he had read. He had some information, but knowledge would have crosschecked that.
In this era of information technology, all that we need to know requires only the punching of the right keywords.
What, where, when, who and how is important, but it is the ‘why’ which results in the preceding four and hence the most important. Yet the most neglected.