Turtles and Humans Have Much in Common


Active Member
May 23, 2007
Turtles and Humans Have Much in Common

I had once concluded it to be natural that when confronted by a new idea humans tended to do a turtle; withdraw into their shell until the coast was clear.

After some time posting in cyberspace I have modified my view somewhat. I think that we tend to display two types of turtle responses to our encounter with new ideas.

The terrapin withdraws quickly into its shell and the snapping turtle hisses, spits, and snaps when such an encounter happens. I suspect that cyberspace has allowed many people to display a more vulgar attitude than they would in face-to-face encounters.

I think that age is a factor in this equation. The young tend to be snappers and the older tend to be terrapins. I think that our teachers and professors have imprinted on the minds of their pupils that there is a legitimacy aspect to knowledge. That knowledge introduced by the teacher is legit and the rest should be avoided when possible.

Instead of graduates eager to learn and to earn we have constructed an educational system that qualifies citizens for a life of mindless production and consumption. Instead of turtles we need cats as a model for schooling.

A cat travels through the forest alert and curious to all that is in her range of perception. Instead of withdrawing into a shell the cat stealthily examines everything in its path. After a quick examination the cat very well may dart away for cover. The cat is, I think, more likely to survive in a dynamic and dangerous world than is the turtle.

Everyone is ignorant of 99.9999…% of the knowledge in the world. Understanding this fact I think is the first step toward setting each one of us free from any embarrassment we might feel about our ignorance. We should use our ignorance as a catalyst for discovering the joy of learning to understand what ever portion of the world’s knowledge that interests us.

We were born smart enough but we weren’t born intellectually sophisticated enough to handle this high tech world we have invented.

What is the difference between “being smart” and “being sophisticated”? I would say that we can use the handyman and his tool box as a good analogy for comprehending this difference. The number and quality of the instruments in a handyman’s tool box is a measure of his smartness and his experience using those tools is a measure of his sophistication.

If a handyman has only a hammer then every job is a job that will get hammered on. If that handyman has a great tool box but has experience only with a hammer then that handyman will look for things that can be hammered into place.

What’s in your tool box that you can use efficiently?

Do you know how to become more intellectually sophisticated? Become a self-actualizing self-learner.