A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or why younger men sometimes totally disregard the advice of their older peers.

I’ve known this cliché for a long time, even at a younger age. For the longest time I thought that this cliché was one of empowerment in that, if you have even a little knowledge, you could be capable or dangerous to others. Through conversation with my father I learned that I didn’t have the complete answer.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing means that though one may know something, one does not know what one doesn’t know, and you will make faulty decisions based on a the three data points when one should make a decision based on twenty. That is to say, if someone has a small knowledge of martial arts, he should not assume that he is therefore a kung-fu master and start getting into fights. Sure, he might beat up a few guys who don’t know anything about fighting, but should he come up against someone with medium experience he’ll lose bad.

This cliché is especially applicable to younger men like myself. Often we learn a few things in a field of interest and we jump to many conclusions. Maybe we even accrue some experience that supports our grand total of five data points in head. Often we get to the point where we’re so confident in our expertise that we ignore the advice of our older peers who are trying to help because we think what we’re doing “makes sense” and “it’s worked before.” Of course, the guy trying to help us out is working with fifty data points and sees exactly where we’re going wrong and even explains it to us, and still we ignore him only to learn the hard way that he was right all along.

This has happened to me plenty of times concerning advice with my Dad. This happens to plenty of younger guys just starting out in the game when their culturally ingrained beta advice wins out against the advice they get from their player friends or experienced mentors. This has also happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. It is all well and fine to learn by trial and error, and young men certainly have the time to learn from their mistakes. Often being young is the perfect time to learn from your mistakes because the consequences are relatively small. I mean, compare heart-break, writing love poems, and whining to anyone who will listen about how you fucked up to getting raped in divorce court, losing your kids, your lover, and tons of money in asset division; child support payments, and alimony. Learning from your mistakes at a young age beats the shit out of doing the same when you’re older.

But there’s another way to learn that’s faster and less painful. It’s called learning from the mistakes of others and taking the advice of others. I’ve had good relations with my parents and have stayed out of a lot of trouble because I saw, or rather, heard what happened to my siblings when they misbehaved. The screams that echoed through the walls and throughout the house were effective in convincing me to pay attention to what they did and not repeat it! My siblings often thought I didn’t get spanked enough. I laughed and thanked them for being stupid for me. For the longest time I didn’t learn from other people’s mistakes regarding girls. But when I started to, I avoided a lot of pitfalls. Sure, I occasionally have an episode where I’m headstrong or my feelings get the best of me, but I learn so much more this way than just learning from my mistakes. This is not say that I don’t also learn from trial and error, I do both. I attribute following my father’s advice to a lot of success in my life.

How do I do this? I accept that my Dad has seen and done a hell of lot more than I have and I pay attention to his advice. It helps that I’ve naturally preferred his company to my mom’s since around fourteen years of age and have had plenty of time to pick his brain when we’d go shoot sporting clays for the last four years. I learned what Emotional Quotient or EQ is, when to recognize that mine was low, and how to deal with it so that my emotions don’t control my life (or affect my shooting!). All I have to do is look at how successful my Dad is, what good health he is for his age and then the quality of his advice is self-evident.

I don’t only take advice from my Dad. I take advice from what I read on various blogs in the manosphere. Some things I have to take with a grain of salt of course, because it’s the internet. Usually I read something, keep it at the back of my head, and quietly evaluate whether it is true or useful or not based on my own experiences. I don’t take advice from just anyone, however, I take advice from people who I have reason to think know more about a subject than I do. And I keep taking their advice until they prove otherwise.

Read More:  “I Want” Is Not Good Enough


29 thoughts on “A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing”

  1. Good post. No matter what people may say, humility is a great virtue and will definitely carry you a long way.
    Admit that you don’t know shit and try to soak things in.

  2. The flip-side of this is “paralysis by analysis”. I have routinely over-analyzed and sought multiple points of view in the past when I should have just acted and learned from the experience. As time goes on I realize that no one I know has close to the answers that I seek for what’s best for me, because even my family members don’t have more than a basic understanding of my motivations and passions. Of course we should seek advice from people who are knowledgeable about something, but we should be just as judicious in determining which “smart/intelligent” people are utterly clueless on a subject that’s important to us, and avoid/ignore their counsel.

    1. looking back on the past, i must confess that i wish that some of the male authority figures in my life had been much harder on me, and made me carve out a direction and discipline when i was younger…
      there does come a time though when getting your hands dirty and getting on with it, under your own steam, and not relying on advice and etc. is the best way to get things done… good post though 🙂

      1. I have the same wishes. I’d be a lot harder on myself to a degree, if I could go back.
        As for your second point – I believe that when you consistently experience such thoughts (and know what the heck you’re doing) – that’s about when you’re ready.
        I’m ready for that in some things, but not all.

    2. That is why I think one should learn with both methods of learning – trial by fire and through the lessons of others.
      At a young age with only a few bullet points, it’s hard to reliably choose the correct course of action. You make a new bullet point to work with by trying something out and finding out whether it works, or it doesn’t.

  3. Something to keep in mind when parents give relationship advice, they tend to base it on how things SHOULD BE rather than how they ARE.
    For instance, the way young men are commonly instructed to behave towards women is what tanks them in the dating scene. You cannot treat a woman you just met with undeserved respect because a lot of young women have yet to cultivate an appreciation for it, and therefore are unable to return it.

    1. Mothers will often base their advice on how it *should be*, and father will often base it on how it was in their time (before feminism).

      1. This. My father always tells me to buy girls drinks.
        Well, it worked back in his days but those times are long gone.

        1. Sometimes the problem with advice is that parents may tell you what works, but don’t explain why or in what context.
          If you open a girl with, “Can I buy you a drink?”, it’s very likely she’ll take the free drink and be on her way.
          However, if you’re talking to a girl for 15 or so minutes and think things may progress, getting drinks will contribute to getting her loosed up, uninhibited, and back to your apartment.

    2. Very good observation. That was the point of my previous post (even if the post itself was convoluted).
      I don’t take dating advice from my parents much at all anymore. And one day I finally said it out loud, “Mom, things are different now compared to when you were twenty years old. Some time has passed and things have changed.” She was harping on how about how I should treat girls a certain way and by pointing out the difference in dating arenas, she was able to understand why I do what I do. Namely, it is especially true of today’s dating arena that “no good deed goes unpunished”.
      My parents now accept my judgment or preface advice, “I don’t know if this will work in your generation/time, but I often did x,y,z.”
      It works both ways.

  4. Insightful post, Wald. Listening to and following advice has always been hard for me, but I might listen to this bit … 😀

  5. Solid post. My mentors are older than my father. I learned early, but not early enough.

  6. Good post. One thing I’d add though is that you have to be careful who you take advice from. I try to be the one that asks for advice rather than accept unsolicited advice. The reasons for this are too long to go into over type, but in a nut shell, regardless of whether I’m wrong or right on a matter, getting some peoples advice just isn’t worth the consequences – i.e. you’re not just getting advice from them. Even for people I respect, I try not to “take” too much (advice or anything else) from them as this isn’t good for them, me, or the relationship. Most people are utterly useless to your life and only get in the way. To me, properly “weeding your garden” is a necessity for it to flourish.

  7. Right on. It’s not necessarily being smarter but being older and having more experience. Advice from others older ( ?wiser) with more experience can be thought of as a “short cut” to one’s goal.

  8. try being an old woman advising younger women sometime. ill hold the stool for you while you hang the noose

    1. What kind of rope would you like? Does 550 cord shake your tree or is good old fashioned flax rope more your cup of tea?

  9. One thing I learned a long time ago was that it can advice can be quite problematic. That is, whatever someone tells you is the “truth” or “this is how it is,” it’s dependent on how he or she saw things in the past, and even now, within a certain context.
    For example, my father married at 20 and has stayed married his whole life. Though he was an excellent role model for how to be a man and how to be a provider, he was useless in explaining how girls operate, how they have way more SMP power than guys their age, and what was the best way to spark attraction in them. All of these things I had to learn, painfully, by myself over several years. There was no Manosphere back then and it was all trial and error. And, it continued until about four years ago, when I started drinking deep of the ‘sphere’s waters.

  10. Good mentoring friends and neighbors can be worth their weight in gold. They have often already been down the path you are on. Helpful to know people with years of experience in real-estate, law, finance/money, health.Arm yourself with knowledge. The price is right.

Comments are closed.