Every human being that is born starts at exactly the same place. They are a blank slate, knowing nothing that they need to know to survive and thrive in the world in which they find themselves. There is no knowledge that is transferred biologically from parents to child. Regardless of the capacity to learn and the different forms of intelligence human beings possess in greater or lesser quantities, you have none of it.
Even though you know nothing at birth, much is already known by others. The people that have come before you have had experiences that resulted in a certain knowledge in that area. Other people have studied some area to make discoveries and develop a deeper understanding of this thing or that. When you are born, you are way behind in the acquisition of human knowledge, some gained through experiences and some through research and study.
If you embrace the idea that books are not helpful to learning you are deciding that there is nothing worth knowing if it is not gained through your own experience. This is to suggest that the way one should learn about the dangers of fire is to burn themselves, even when others who have already had that experience might strongly suggest that you don’t burn yourself, and even if they can explain to you very clearly and easily how not to do so.
Let’s use K. Anders Ericcson’s 10,000 hours rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. Through a lifetime of experience, someone has learned something useful to other people. While doing so, they have also developed the concepts and ideas that help other people make sense of this thing they know. They have also developed some advice, some strategies, and some tactics that might help other people produce results in this area both faster and more effectively, and they’ve codified these ideas in a common form that allows the transfer of this knowledge from one person to another.
The suggestion that one would be better off avoiding any knowledge that wasn’t gained through own their experience is to believe that there is nothing that can be known that would shorten the learning curve. Following this thinking, you would have to learn that multiplication and division are concepts on your own. It would mean that the only history of any value is your own and that your analysis of your experience is the only experience with any real value. The collective whole of human knowledge and experience would be of no value to you at all, being full of ideas, concepts, strategies, tactics, and instructions that, despite being useful to thousands or millions of people before you, are worthless.
It is true that you cannot learn to swim by reading a book. But you can shorten the learning curve and accelerate your mastery by learning from those who already swim at a level far beyond the level of competency you’ve achieved. Part of that learning can and will be codified in the form of a book. Reading helps you understand your experience and provides context.
For around $25 and 6 hours of your time, you can learn what took someone else a lifetime to learn.
Any suggestion that you should not read books should be rejected with extreme prejudice, and you should think carefully about taking any advice from people who believe there is nothing to learn from others if it has been published as a book. There is no reason to remain ignorant when help gaining knowledge and understanding is available to you, and for a song at that.
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