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Knowledge or ignorance

By : Elias Forero Illera
Internista reumatólogo 



25 January, 2021

https://doi.org/10.46856/grp.22.e060

"Having all possible knowledge available on a subject, places you in a state of superiority that allows you to face adversity with all the tools that science provides. Defeating ignorance allows us to take on a new challenge: to defeat disease"

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This is an open-access article distributed by the terms of the Creative Common Attribution License (CC-BY NC-4). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forms is permitted, provided the original author(a) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with this terms.

“Great knowledge begets great doubts” Aristotle.

I have always had a particular interest in knowing the origin and reason of things. In the era of encyclopedias, when Google was not even a dream, my hobby was to read the Little Larousse Illustrated, the closest thing to an encyclopedia that the austere family economy allowed us.

My uncles quenched a little the thirst for knowledge when they gave me the Salvat Encyclopedic Dictionary, and some volumes of the Monitor encyclopedia, also published by Salvat. The challenge was to complete the difficult crossword puzzle published in the morning edition of El Espectador. On my own and without any help was the motto, but of course, I will not lie, a third part of the crossword was completed with the help of the always effective Little Larousse. 

This yearning for more and better knowledge transcended adolescence. The persevering habit of reading underpinned the entrance to a prestigious university. Understanding the proper functioning of the body and how to correct the pathologies that affect it, with the goal of saving lives, became the chosen challenge for life.

I do not know when we went from the Monitor and Salvat to Wikipedia, from the Encyclopedia Britannica to Google, from Index Medicus to PubMed. Technology for knowledge, has made it easier to acquire high quality and up-to-date information. Books, magazines, videos are now just a click away on tablets and cell phones. Maintaining a connection with the network allows to investigate any doubt when a case puts knowledge to the test. The challenge, to keep updated, to avoid ignorance.

However, Newton taught us in his third law that all actions in life have consequences. Over the years, I discovered that, at least in medicine, having all possible information available has certain implications. Knowing the origin, evolution and prognosis of your own pathologies has connotations that are only magnified when you experience receiving a grim diagnosis.

I will not deny that in medicine, as in other areas of knowledge, the availability of knowledge facilitates prevention, early detection and timely intervention, this privileged status is priceless. 

The point is that these favorable aspects are useful when the diagnosed pathologies have therapies with successful results. But when the diagnoses are ominous, when the pathologies progress in spite of the doctors and the efforts made by science, the price paid is the loss of peace of mind.

When I think that having more knowledge causes anxiety, then ignorance appears and claims for the contempt I have felt towards it. When you ignore, you have no fear, you live happily because you do not know the implications of suffering from this or that pathology. The audacity of ignorance provides the courage and peace of mind that knowledge takes away. Even so, I think back on all the time invested in improving my ability to face the diseases that impact our health. Whoever bets on knowledge cannot be wrong.

Having all possible knowledge available on a subject, places you in a state of superiority that allows you to face adversity with all the tools that science provides. Defeating ignorance allows us to take on a new challenge: to defeat disease.

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