Observation Is The Secret To Discovering Original Ideas
The history of the human race reveals that we have developed up to this state first based on observation of the universe. And not on learned knowledge or inbuilt knowledge. Just observation.
By observing we formulated theories and subjected those theories to tests. Tests and outcomes of tests gave us what we can then refer to as knowledge.
You learn original things from observation not from feeding your mind with existing knowledge. “Original” ideas are more of a product of observation than knowledge accumulation. Although, observation is made easier with existing knowledge. Or has my friend whom I’ve discussed this idea with put it “knowledge is the sharpening of our observational skills”.
The more we know, the more we know, the better we can observe. Because it would mean instead of contemplating the physics of gravity from the ground up, we can pick it up from ‘expert’ conclusions and build from there. We don’t have to start from zero all the time. That wouldn’t make sense. The groundwork has been done, we can build on it.
Observation benefits from long enough thinking
Thinking “long enough” on a single question and asking a lot more follow-up questions about the question is how we become better at observing.
At the beginning of knowledge, that is, when humans were largely unaware of how the world works, the best humans did was to gaze up and ask questions. At other times it looked down and theorized. Humans passed on the theories to their offspring to continue testing until such theory becomes acceptable knowledge. Acceptable because it can not only be relied on unquestionably but we can also build on it.
The knowledge of how the world works is what we are all searching for.
I like to tell people that until we understood gravity we couldn’t fly. And until we understood e=mc² we couldn’t build nuclear energy.
It is our knowledge of how the world works that gives us mastery over the planet. It is common to talk about how Albert Einstein wouldn’t have learned of gravity if the apple didn’t fall in his presence.
But how many people have seen the apple fall before Einstein? The man who observes rules.
We could fly into space today because men have taken their time to observe. It’s where original knowledge comes from; observation.
I was glad to see Richard Branson go on an hour-long journey within space and zero gravity. It will usher in a new era of even more original knowledge. Branson spent only 5 mins in the zero gravity area. If we get 1,000 humans to spend similar time, we will only be bound by what they could imagine in that short time and their reflection afterwards. Observation advances the human race.
Why am I saying all these in praise of observation? Because I have equally observed that several people did not know what great force a time taken to observe a phenomenon can be.
We all probably spend our time taking glory in adding existing knowledge to our head or in doing little thinking about what we even managed to learn.
Yet, if we can pick again the lost art of observation that is responsible for what we have in the world today, maybe we could accelerate bringing our dreams to reality.
Wise King Solomon was a great observer
Of King Solomon it was said in 1 Kings 4:29-34 (MSG):
God gave Solomon wisdom — the deepest of understanding and the largest of hearts. There was nothing beyond him, nothing he couldn’t handle. Solomon’s wisdom outclassed the vaunted wisdom of wise men of the East, outshone the famous wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone—wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, wiser than Heman, wiser than Calcol and Darda the sons of Mahol. He became famous among all the surrounding nations. He created 3,000 proverbs; his songs added up to 1,005.
But how did he come about this much wisdom? To come about it, God had to make him become a great observer:
He knew all about plants, from the huge cedar that grows in Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows in the cracks of a wall. He understood everything about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.
Sent by kings from all over the earth who had heard of his reputation, people came from far and near to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.
A man who spends his time learning the ways of all plants, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the crack of a wall (how did he find the hyssop if not by being extremely observant?) and who understood everything about animals and birds and reptiles and fish is considered the wisest among all of his generation. That’s the gift of observation.
From King Solomon, one lesson I want you to notice is that when God blesses you with wisdom, what he’s merely giving you is the gift of unmatched ability to observe the universe.