Understanding Confusion

Many people get into difficulties because they're confused about something. I'd like to show you how to take confusion and make it into understanding. I need someone to play with, to demonstrate how this is done. After I demonstrate, I'm going to ask you to pair up and do it with each other, so pay attention.

First think of something you're confused about, and you'd like to understand.

Bill: There are a lot of things I don't understand—

Stop. I want you to listen carefully to what I asked you to do, I did not ask you to think of something you don't understand; I asked you to think of something you're confused about. "Confusion" and "not understanding" are very different. There are a lot of things that you don't understand, because you don't know anything about them. You probably don't understand open-heart surgery or how to design a hydrogen bomb. You're not confused about them; you just don't have the information you'd need to understand how to do those things.

Confusion, however, is always an indication that you're on your way to understanding. Confusion presupposes that you have a lot of data, but it's not yet organized in a way that allows you to understand it. So I want you to think of something you're confused about: something you have a lot of experience with, but it doesn't make sense to you. . . .

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