This post first appeared as part of my post on The Incredible Machine.

Please feel free to skip to the Literal Interpretation if analogies and metaphors don’t work for you. Thank you, KC Davis for highlighting and modelling this opportunity to accomodate different learning styles!

Once, a young man desired a homecooked hamburger. He performed a quick search and found a plethora of recipes with grocery shopping lists, and he chose one that seemed to balance simplicity with quality. He acquired the ingredients, followed the recipe to the letter, and enjoyed a delicious hamburger.

The next week, the young man hungered for a homemade grilled cheese. As with the hamburger, he found little trouble in finding a recipe, obtaining the groceries, following the steps, and enjoying his melty, crisp sandwich.

The third week, the young man craved a BLT. And so, as with the previous meals, he searched for a recipe, went shopping, and followed it to the letter.

Finally, excited by his progress, he invited his parents for dinner. “Mother, Father, I can make hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and BLTs (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato)! What would like?”

“I would like a bacon cheeseburger,” said his father.

“I would love a grilled cheese with lettuce and tomato,” said his mother.

“I’m sorry, I do not know how to make these,” said the son, and sent them home hungry.

Literal Interpretation

I asked Bing Chat to do this for me, partially to see whether my parable said what I intended and partially for convenience. The following is the reply from Bing Chat, and I approve of this message:

One possible interpretation of this parable is that it illustrates the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the ability to acquire and apply information, such as following a recipe or performing a search. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge creatively and adaptively, such as combining different recipes or improvising with available ingredients.

The young man in the parable has knowledge, but not wisdom. He can make three dishes by following instructions, but he cannot create new dishes by using his knowledge in novel ways. He lacks the flexibility and insight to satisfy his parents’ requests, even though they are simple variations of what he already knows.

The parable may also suggest that knowledge alone is not enough to achieve happiness or fulfillment. The young man may be proud of his skills, but he fails to connect with his parents or share his joy with them. He may also miss out on the opportunity to learn from his mistakes or discover new possibilities.

The parable may invite us to reflect on our own relationship with knowledge and wisdom. Do we rely too much on external sources of information, such as search engines or recipes? Do we challenge ourselves to use our knowledge in creative and adaptive ways? Do we seek to learn from our experiences and share our insights with others? Do we value wisdom over knowledge, or vice versa? 🤔