If you use a machine, it is best to at least understand the basics behind it

I have been alarmed at the decline in intellectual curiosity within our society.

On one hand, our technology has become more and more user friendly, allowing people who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to use advanced technology that was once accessible to a small portion of society with specialized knowledge about that area to allow people as a whole to access it. On the other hand, it has the negative effect of lowering the level of knowledge that people have about the equipment they use.

Flip on a switch. That is not something that most people think about. In reality, modern electricity generation has a lot of complexity behind it. From the source of energy, to the transmission, to the transformers, to  you. There are many other examples. Our food system, computer technology, automobiles, etc. This has had alarming effects. Many children for example were unable to tell testers that eggs did not come from chickens in the UK. Apart from those of us who eat eggs from other species, such as myself – I enjoy duck eggs and salmon roe, the overwhelming majority of eggs consumed here in North America likely come from chickens.

This can lead to dangerous consequences. Take for example automobiles.

Not having at least some understanding leaves people vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals within our society, who sell services to people that they may not need. It is also sad that this happens in the industry. As one commentator in the show noted, it is sad that there are unethical mechanics that ruin the reputation for everyone in their industry.

There are other problems. Basic maintenance is often neglected on vehicles. In the video below, keep in mind that had the person undergone regular oil changes, they would likely have saved a lot of money versus the cost of having to hire a mechanic to repair their engine. What is alarming about this situation is that this person could have simply followed the maintenance schedule in the vehicle. All vehicles in their manuals have a dedicated maintenance schedule. Often preventative maintenance saves money in the long run.  This is a good reason why people should understand their vehicle, understand the why they need to take care of their vehicle, and how to do so.

The above is a case of a vehicle owner that did not change their engine oil for quite some time. While it is always possible that someone does get a lemon, it happens far less with modern vehicles than it does in the past. Many cases are entirely caused by poor maintenance by the end user. At any given time, 80% of vehicles in the US on the road need maintenance.

What about at work?

I like to promote myself as the “Curious Gadfly”. I often find that in large organizations, people can get siloed into their department. This does not happen at smaller organizations as much because they do not have the personnel count that would allow individuals to specialize, but in larger organizations, this becomes a big issue. Often learning about all aspects of an organization can assist you in ways that you did not see before.

There are many machines and complex technologies too at work that you should understand a at least at a basic level as to how they function and they “why” they are used. Someday, you may find yourself very thankful that you had that knowledge.

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