After having worked for several years in any specific field, it becomes generally understood, accepted, and acknowledged that the scholars must be experts in the field. People from other fields, or the same field but having different expertise, as also general public, would look up to them to be educated and get any doubts cleared. Whatever they tell, others accept as truth, without feeling any need to cross-examine the facts. What is the need? — afterall they are experts, aren’t they? In fact, that is one of the rationales behind the enormous investment made by any government into higher education. Everybody cannot be educated into every field; selected people pursue certain area of study and educate others about whatever they have learned. This is the way learning spreads. ‘No answer’ lets us down, any wrong answer spreads incorrect information.
Deep knowledge of the basic concepts, principles, and facts of the field, in which one is working, is necessary. It is a constant embarrassment to repeatedly admit that one does not know the answer. Finding themselves in such a scenario, speakers often give just any answer only to fill the gap. Something has to be said. Sometimes they do admit their ignorance, and tell so; however, the audience encourages or prods them to make some guess, an educated guess as they call it. And trapped from all sides, the speaker — most often a student — has to give some number, some answer. This developes a superficial attitude in students and they make a habit of getting away giving perfunctory replies, without having or making any effort towards in-depth knowledge on any subject.
When ignorant about the concepts or facts that would answer the query correctly, is it really inappropriate for a person just to say — “I don’t know”, thus acknowledging that knowledge itself is a vast ocean and one has so far been able to take up only a few droplets out of it?, admitting that one had not thought of the question, and is grateful to the person asking to bring it to notice. One could promise to look into the problem and search for an answer in books, journals, internet, or ask more learned and educated people, then return back to provide the correct answer. And one should not just get away with that, instead come back to pass on the gathered information and knowledge.
There must be a bottomline. Stress and focus should always be on learning. All fields of human learning have expanded to such a large extent that it is difficult to keep track of the various topics even in any one of them — leave alone having in-depth knowledge. So it is but normal that certain details are missed or overlooked, or did not come up in the mind of the young student. Once the problem has been identified and conveyed, the student should make every attempt at gathering sufficient knowledge and information related to that issue, and make it a part of permanent arsenal. Only thus does the knowledge base expand and fill in the gaps in learning, if any.
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