++ to you, BrowserUK and welcome to
Epistemology Monks! ;)
There are a few groundrules here:
- You can Super Search, but keep
in mind that knowledge is constantly growing and what may be
true today is not necessarily true next week. Anyway we
don't know if
anything else really exists anyway,
so what's the point, really?
- It's not so much about what you know, but rather about
your basic ability to acquire new knowledge and apply it.
(I see some others have mentioned this.) Being intelligent
helps, but also conditioning one's mind to think efficiently
plays a huge role.
- It follows that Perl Monks (our sister site) doesn't just
expose people to things they don't know, but also teaches them
to think in different ways in order to solve a problem.
(map, baby! That's all I have to say.)
- Hedge a lot. People who are used to participating in
scientific/academic discourses tend to qualify the things they
say a lot, using "academic caution"*. Academic
caution is what results from knowing that you know something
about something, but still knowing that your knowledge is potentially
incomplete, so you go up one level of abstraction and say that the
work reflects general principles, even though the experimental data
used are quite case-specific.
- In Perl Monks, the knowledge bit seems to flow freely. Most of the
hedging done is social hedging---trying not to hurt someone's feelings.
That is very important because people won't ask questions and learn
anything if they feel they are being attacked. (Just adding my voice
to your last couple of points.)
OK, all jokes aside, I also feel these things are important, so thanks for the post.
* Academics can be vicious.