Spheres of Intellect

When Taylor was an infant, she was not a good baby.  You’d never know it by her sleeping habits now, but she did not sleep for long stretches at all.  Megan and I had a system during her maternity leave; she would cover the day, and then when I got home I would cover the night until about 5 am.  That was a painful time

Tay would cry a lot and nothing could calm her to the point that she could go to sleep, except me walking around the house holding her.  I did this figure 8 loop around the dining table and then back into the living room around the coffee table.  Back then late night TV was limited and there was no DVR.  There might have been YouTube, but not like now.  At 2 am all the news shows started looping and even ESPN started repeating the prime time coverage.  I watched a lot of cooking shows and CSPAN.  I love CSPAN.

I’ve had this theory for a long time that I call “Spheres of Intellect”.  Basically each person has a pool of knowledge that surrounds them and sometimes overlaps with other people’s spheres.  But no matter what, no two spheres are identical.  There is always something you know that someone else doesn’t and more importantly, that applies vice versa.  

I have long held Spheres of Intellect as a self motivator that no matter how much I admire and respect a person, I know something they don’t.  I am a huge Bill Gates fan and I have always held to the fact that there is a part of my sphere that includes car care and home maintenance that his probably does not.   And that makes me feel better about his success and my lack thereof.  

One night in 1999, I was watching CSPAN and Warren Buffett was giving an interview and he spoke about his Circles of Competence theory.  I have since learned this term first appeared in a 1996 Berkshire annual report letter.   I was so excited that one of my heroes had the same theory as me.  But more importantly it meant that someone of his character and caliber recognized that there was something he didn’t know, and no matter the income or educational background of the person he was talking to, that person might know more about a given subject.  How amazing is that?  I could talk to Warren Buffett and he would acknowledge that I know more about… say building a tailgate box, and listen to me intently and respectfully.  This seems such an obvious concept and yet in this world of following-news-on-only-the-social-channels-I-agree-with world, it is now dead.

Eric and I were talking the other night about how we can fundamentally disagree on issues and yet we both respect each other’s opinions about how to interpret facts and that when we do this, I recognized a few things about the very notion of intelligent discourse.

  1. Each of us is a good person with a good heart who loves this country and its people and wants it to be a great place to live and raise the future generations
  2. Just because we disagree on the mechanism to get us to a better place, doesn’t mean that one of the two opposing ideas is intentionally aiming to “ruin”, “destroy” or be a “disaster” for the country
  3. [This comes from a college class I took in philosophy] Opinions must be based on facts.  There can be two differing opinions about the same set of facts.  As you debate the merits of each, what you are actually doing is debating how rational the reaction and opinion is to one or multiple facts, assigning weighting factors to each and leveraging them cohesively to form an argument about the validity of your opinion

Eric and I noted with dismay that the act of rational and calm debate has completely disappeared.  We got to talking about the idea of creating a podcast or YouTube channel that would attempt to find decency in political debate in what is sure to be an insane political season.  But since that medium is now unviable as platform, I recognize that I would need to do something new and different.  Since we spoke, I have an idea and I am actually excited about trying to put this together.

Everyone has different circles.  Respecting that doesn’t make you weak.  It actually makes the humbleness of your own self respect portray you as much stronger.  Playing to that reality I think could be a winning formula.  When you make an argument, the first thing you must do is to agree to a set of facts, and if your disagree, the basis of your argument has to be rooted in a fact.  This is done by introducing new facts that come with mutual agreements.  I’m going to create structure around this, I think it will be cool.  More to come.  

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About Josh Rutstein

I am an aspiring entrepreneur and hopeful political candidate. Father of 2 very special girls and passionate American. I snowboard whenever possible and follow a 20x mentality for exercise. I also play golf and ultimate frisbee and am a die hard New England Patriots fan and season ticket holder. Everyday I wake up wanting to make this country a better place, someday I hope to actually succeed.
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One Response to Spheres of Intellect

  1. Pingback: The Giving Part of Thanks | A Goofy Foot in Mouth

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