I'm in the process of writing 'Report #TL20: The Principles
of Meta-Knowledge.' A section of the report will be titled
I believe this section is relevant to all those involved
in improving and increasing their own knowledge as well as
that of others.
I would appreciate your comments and suggestions for improving
my classification and descriptions:
By "knowledge role" I distinguish between different ways
in which people tend to behave with respect to knowledge.
This section was considerably influenced by James Craig
Green's article 'ADVOCATES, SKEPTICS and SEEKERS' at
I distinguish the following knowledge roles:
1. Advocate - Someone who has found some (hopefully) *useful
knowledge* (or "absolute truth") and actively attempts to
spread this knowledge or "truth" because it's *useful* or
2. Skeptic - Someone who has found some purported "knowledge"
or "truth" to be mistaken and sets about proving that it's
3. Seeker - Someone who actively seeks to improve his or
her knowledge. (A Seeker can also act as a Learner or an
Unlearner, or both.)
4. True Believer - Someone who believes he or she has found
"objective truth" or "absolute truth." (A True Believer
could also act as an Advocate or a Skeptic.)
According to Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson -- 'Brain Freebie' course at
<http://www.sot.com.au/> -- the symptom of the True Believer is saying,
"I have the truth" ... "My policy is the true policy" ... "My doctrine
is good and your doctrine is evil", or, perhaps, "Wasn't I lucky to be
born into that True Religion and now what are we going to do about you,
unbeliever?" It's a dangerous mental condition. In the Preface of his
book 'The True Believers' Peter Bowler warns:
Here they come, the True Believers, wide-eyed and earnest; here they come,
the devotees, the fanatics, the evangelists, the pilgrims, the worshippers,
the contemplatives -- clutching their hymns and invocations, observing their
holy commandments and taboos, performing their sacrifices but, above all,
believing. Believing in God, or in several gods, or even a goddess or two.
Believing in the soul, in demons, in eternal forgiveness, in eternal
punishment, in life after death, in assorted varieties of heaven and hell,
in the power of faith to heal, to move mountains...
They are and always have been, the idealists of humankind. Seeking
something beyond the material, something intangible, something to explain
the unexplainable, something to assuage their fear of the uncontrollable,
something to compensate them for the unacceptable, something to offer them
a kind of dignity and power in the midst of indignity and impotence.
Let us not mock the True Believer for their idealism. But watch out for
them -- they can be dangerous. Combative people, they are, by nature;
crusaders rather than compromisers. Because they are right, others are
wrong. The sinful must be punished, and who more sinful than the
unbeliever? The more intolerant and warlike among them seek to punish the
unbeliever in this life, with holy wars and inquisitions; the more
benevolent and tolerant leave it to their God to punish the unbeliever with
eternal torments after death.
>From time to time history has thrown up a sect that is gentle and moderate
and peace loving, like the Quakers or the Baha'i; invariably these sects
are singled out for the most ruthless persecution at the hands of the True
When two religions are so similar as to be almost identical in every
significant respect then take cover, because the conflict between them will
be truly murderous. Buddhists and Presbyterians get along famously, but if
you are selling insurance you would be ill-advised to set up shop in
Palestine or Belfast."
5. Rejector or True Unbeliever - Someone who tends to
automatically reject new, different information with
little or no thought. The extreme Rejector might
claim that all knowledge is basically useless. The
"Semmelweis-reflex" applies here -- see '#TL03: HOW TO
IMPROVE YOUR INFORMATION' at <http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl03.htm>.
6. Onlygenius - Someone who believes he or she is the "only genius"
in the universe. L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology infamy wrote along
these lines, "In all the history of Scientology there have been
only two or three good ideas that were not generated by me..."
I once shared some realization of mine with a Scientologist friend.
He asked me, "Did Ron say that?" I said, "No, I said it." He
replied, "Well, if Ron didn't say it, it can't be true!" The
Onlygenius suffers from the N.I.H. Syndrome ("not invented here")
coupled with a strong dose of arrogance -- sometimes partly justified.
(The Onlygenius acts as a True Believer regarding his or her own
"absolute truth" and as a Rejector or True Unbeliever regarding the
knowledge of others.)
7. Lazymind - Someone who's not willing to invest any
effort or thought to improve his or her knowledge. (Both
True Believers and Rejectors could also be Lazyminds.)
Lazyminds passively expect knowledge to be provided to them
on a platter. For example, a Lazymind might say, "All this
Freedom Technology is written for Americans; I can't use it
8. Infogetter - Someone who actively acquires the knowledge he
or she needs, adapting existing knowledge as necessary. For
examples, see David T. Freeman's website at <http://www.mind-trek.com/>,
the "Wepin Store" at <http://www.wepin.com/>, and Bill Way's
website at <http://www.livefree.com/>.
9. Facilitator - Someone who has considerably developed his
or her knowledge and creates and provides facilities that
enable others to improve their knowledge -- without acting
as a know-all Advocate who commands "absolute truth." (A
Facilitator basically acts as an Advocate, but also as a
Seeker seeking to become a more effective Advocate, while
remaining (to some extent) a Skeptic of his or her own
The Facilitator's task is vastly more difficult than that
of the Seeker. Once a Seeker has discovered or developed
some important knowledge people in general lack, he or she
may want to share this knowledge with the rest of the world.
Generally, he or she could attempt do this in the role of
either Advocate or Facilitator.
There are major differences between Advocate and
Facilitator. Many Advocates just plug away at pushing
their line, sometimes year after year, producing little
or no positive results. They tend to focus totally on
pushing their line at every opportunity. Dr. Michael
Hewitt-Gleeson is an example of a successful Facilitator
Successful Facilitators mostly act as Advocates,
but include some additional functions:
(1) They seek to learn how to identify and attract
prospects for their knowledge; they need to distinguish
between prospects and non-prospects. They don't
want to waste precious time on non-prospects.
(2) Facilitators, while being largely Advocates,
focus totally on producing worthwhile results
effectively and efficiently.
(3) Successful Facilitator act as Seekers on at least
(a) Identifying and attracting prospects;
(b) Seeking to learn how to become more
efficient and effective Facilitators;
(c) Seeking to better understand people in
general, so as to learn to improve interaction
(d) Seeking to use the interaction to further
improve their own knowledge;
(e) Seeking to improve their ability to observe,
particularly self-observation -- vitally necessary
to become a better Facilitator.
(4) Suceessful Facilitators always remain at least
"little Skeptics" concerning their own information.
10. Objectivist - Someone who believes in "objective knowledge"
and "objective truth." Many Objectivists believe in "objective
morality." Objectivists tend to act as True Believers of their
very rigid "objective knowledge" and "objective morality."
Objectivists tend to act as Seekers of "final answers" who
become Advocates of the "final answers" once they think they've
11. Positivist, Empiricist, or Realist - Someone who believes
that all knowledge needs to be based on physical observation
and experimentation; that physical objects exist independently
of the mind; that certain concepts like "mind" (as opposed to
brain), "self," and "consciousness" are illusions with no basis
12. Subjectivist or Idealist - Someone who believes that
consciousness is senior to physical reality; that subjective
experience and feeling are superior to physical observation.
Plato's notion of "essence" or "ideal form" constitutes the
essence of subjectivism. (Subjectivists may say, "It's all
in the mind" -- but when the bus bears down at them, they
mostly get quickly out of the way (like Realists) to avoid
being run over and killed!)
13. Egoist -- Someone who regards the self as supreme and
structures his or her knowledge to best serve himself or
14. Solipsist - Someone who believes that only the self exists,
and that all he or she can know are creations or modifications
of his or her self.
15. Questioneer - Someone with the ability or willingness
to question everything. Someone who repeatedly asks certain
questions like, "How can I improve this?" and "What is right
about what I'm doing?" For more details on some powerful
questions on the basis of which to live your life, see Kurt
Wright's 'Breaking the Rules' at <http://www.cpmpublishing.com/>.
16. Learner - A Seeker who has identified an area where he
or she needs to learn more -- an area of relatave ignorance
-- and actively learns whatever he or she needs to learn.
(A Learner could act as a True Believer who "learns" only
what his or her "master guru" Advocate tells him or her to
17. Unlearner - A Seeker (or "Self-Skeptic") who has identified
an area where he or she needs to unlearn certain things --
could be an area of "absolute truth" or arrogance -- and
actively unlearns whatever he or she needs to unlearn.
Because of the "truth" virus, arrogance, learning investment,
etc., it's sometimes more difficult to unlearn what you've
previously learned. Toward the end of 'Report #TL07G: NSPIC
DEBATE #3' at <http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07g.htm>
there's a debate on unlearning. For more on unlearning,
see 'Unlearning Ineffective or Obsolete Technologies' at
<http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~wstarbuc/unlearn.html>. See also
'What is Unlearning?' at <http://www.mithya.com/what_Unlearning.html>.
18. Identifier - Someone who in his or her mentation
fails to make a distinction between word and thing (map
and territory or menu and meal) when the distinction is
necessary. See '#TL07A: The Anatomy of Slavespeak' at
During a debate I wrote:
>A thought process that will help some to recognize and
>clear pemes from their minds is to make a distinction
>between the *word* and the *reality* (or non-reality)
>the word is usually used to represent. Next focus
>on the word and all the ways it's habitually used
>by political "masters." Then consider the likely
>consequences typically produced in the minds of most
>"subjects" by such use of the word.
(Peme = political meme -- see '#TL074: Peme-Theory -
Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced' at
Someone in the Identifier role doesn't distinguish
between the *word* on the one hand, and the *reality/
non-reality* on the other hand, the word is used to
represent. Thus some or all of what I'm writing here
about the Identifier may make no sense to an Identifier.
Toward the end of 'Report #TL07G: NSPIC DEBATE #3' at
<http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07g.htm> there's a
discussion about "meta-literacy" -- the thinking skill
necessary to break out of the Identifier role and act
as a Distinctor.
19. Distinctor - Someone who can competently distinguish
in his or her mentation between *word* and *thing*.
Toward the end of 'Report #TL07G: NSPIC DEBATE #3' at
<http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07g.htm> I also distinguish
four levels of literacy:
(0) No command of language -- can't speak, read, nor write.
(1) Illiterate -- can speak, but not read nor write.
(2) Literate -- can speak, read, and write with a reasonable
degree of proficiency.
(3) Meta-literate -- can transcend language and use language
to examine, analyze, and evaluate language; can change language
depending on appropriateness for any given situation.
...Ayn Rand's analysis of the concept/word "selfishness" is a
level 3 activity.
This is a level 2 statement: Government exists.
Level 3: The notion that "government" (so-called) exists is silly.
The person stuck at level 2 [the Identifier] can't read a level 3
statement as it's written. So he compulsively distorts it into a
level 2 statement: Government doesn't exist.
...Level 2 statements are essentially about physical reality or
have the form and syntax of statements about physical reality.
Level 3 statements are essentially about verbal reality, the
relationships between verbal reality and physical reality, the
weaknesses, strengths, and consequences of verbal forms, and the
improvement of verbal forms. Level 3 statements are about the
effects words have on the way we perceive the world, the way we
think about the world, the way we communicate, and the way we
act. All these can be greatly influenced by the words we use."
The Distinctor handles level 3 statements competently and
understands them easily. The Identifier may have great difficulty
with level 3 statements and generally attmepts to change and distort
them into level 2 statements.
20. Wordblinder - Someone who is effectively unaware of the
verbal environment in which he or she lives, and relatively
blind to the influences of words on perception, thinking,
and behavior. In '#TL076: TWILIGHT OF THE PHOBOCRATS' at
<http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl076.htm> there's a section
on a Wordblinder who claims, "Words don't hurt people, people
hurt people." (A Wordblinder almost certainly also acts as an
21. Whobeliever - ("Who-do-you-believer") Someone who thinks
that some or much of your knowledge depends on "who you believe."
(A Whobeliever probably tends to act as a Subjectivist or
22. Weigher - ("Rational-weigher-of-theory-and-evidence")
Someone with the ability to collect evidence and theories,
or formulate theories based on the evidence, and who then
reaches reasonably rational conclusions.
Many years ago I had a discussion with a friend who was also
a health enthusiast. I told him that I'd decided to give up
cow's milk and other dairy products. He replied that he didn't
know who to believe because some people were pro-milk and others
anti-milk. I realized that he didn't have a methodology for
weighing evidence and theories in order to come to a reasonably
rational conclusion. He was acting as a Whobeliever.
In contrast, I collected considerable evidence and evaluated
theories related to aspects such as mucus formation, composition
of cow's milk vs. composition of human milk, calcium deposits
resulting in arthritis, optimum weaning age, etc. Based on all
this I reached what I believe to be a reasonably rational conclusion.
I acted as a Weigher. (A Weigher probably tends to act as a
Positivist, Empiricist, or Realist.)
23. Outmeaner - Someone who thinks meanings are outside himself
or herself, e.g., "words have meanings." See '#TL50A: Semantic
Rigidity, Flexibility, and Freedom' at
'#TL07A: The Anatomy of Slavespeak' at
24. Inmeaner - Someone who believes that he or she creates and
has all meanings, e.g., "people have meanings for words." See
'#TL50A: Semantic Rigidity, Flexibility, and Freedom' at
'#TL07A: The Anatomy of Slavespeak' at
25. Inevaluator - ("Intensional Evaluator") Someone who creates
mental models or representations based on personal internal
experiences, rather than external facts. See '#TL07A: The
Anatomy of Slavespeak' at <http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07a.htm>.
The Inevaluator tends to elevate words over facts -- he or she
tends to regard words as more important than facts. For example,
a Godbeliever as Inevaluator might say, "I can't demonstrate any
observable facts that indicate God exists, but I've had many
religious experiences that have convinced me that God exists."
(Inevaluators also tend to act as Subjectivists or Idealists.)
26. Exevaluator - ("Extensional Evaluator") Someone who creates
mental models or representations based on observable external
facts, rather than personal internal experiences. See '#TL07A: The
Anatomy of Slavespeak' at <http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07a.htm>.
The Exevaluator tends to elevate facts over words -- he or she
tends to regard facts as more important than words. For example,
in thinking about so-called "AIDS," he might say, "OK, we have
this word "AIDS." What facts are available to justify people
using this word the way they habitually do?" -- See section
below on ""AIDS": The Billion Dollar Word." (Exevaluators tend
to act as Positivists, Empiricists, or Realists.)
27. Fixer - Someone who's attitude toward knowledge (and life in
general) is: "Find out what's wrong and fix it."
28. Builder - Someone who's attitude toward knowledge (and life
in general) is: "Find out what's right and build on it." For more
details on the benefits to the Builder, see Kurt Wright's 'Breaking
the Rules' at <http://www.cpmpublishing.com/>.
"The [one] who knows what freedom is will find a way to be free."
-- Robert LeFevre
"We are free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."
-- William Faulkner
"Language creates spooks that get into our heads and hypnotize us."
-- Robert Anton Wilson
"It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head."
-- Sally Kempton
"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
-- Steve Biko
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