Justin Li

The Shape of an Educated Man


I wrote about educating a universal man last time. Last week, I had the strange idea of representing the amount of knowledge on a graph.

On these graphs, the horizontal axis represents the spectrum of academic fields. Obviously there is no one order to put the fields in, but just let that rest for now. The vertical axis represents amount of knowledge; it's a percentage, so 1 means complete knowledge (or world-class expert, as the former might not be possible) and 0 means no knowledge or novice in the field.

I also try to keep the area of under the curve constant, 1 in this case. This is not always possible, but it does represent a limit to the amount of information the brain could hold.

They are done in the style of Indexed. I don't follow them, but I've found a few which are amusing.

First, a correction on one of the links above (the "are"):

An updated Indexed plot

Then, quotes by John Ziman:

"A philosopher is a person who knows less and less about more and more, until he knows nothing about everything."

A plot of what a philosopher knows

"A scientist is a person who knows more and more about less and less, until he knows everything about nothing."

A plot of what a scientist knows

Finally, Homo universalis, which Thomas Huxley puts succinctly, "Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."

A plot of what a homo universalis knows