The 3 Characteristics of an Educated Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 30, 2011 · 118 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development

What defines an educated man? The number of degrees he has? The size of his vocabulary? How many books he’s read?

The qualities that constitute an educated man can be argued over and debated. But I was really taken with the description I found in the book How to Live the Good Life by Commander Edward Whitehead (the Schweppes guy!). He said:

“An educated man has been defined as one who can entertain himself, one who can entertain another, and one who can entertain a new idea.”

Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics.

Can Entertain Himself

“Only those who want everything done for them are bored.” –Billy Graham

“I’m bored!” is the plaintive cry uttered by many a child idling away their summer vacation or fall break. They expect their parents to come up with an activity to cure this boredom (if your mom was like mine, she would always make a wry suggestion like, “How about cleaning up your room?”).

Unfortunately, many men never outgrow this need to be entertained by others and don’t develop into manly self-starters. This is the man who puts his head down on the dinner table as people talk after eating (I’ve seen it), the college student who grouses his way through a class outing to the local museum, and the houseguest who comes to visit your fair city and has no idea what he’d like to do during his stay; he leaves all the planning to you.

The reason that children are perennially bored is not that there aren’t entertainment options available—they’re often surrounded by toys and games—but that they have such short attention spans. They play with one thing for a little bit and then another, and then don’t know what else to do. The educated man is able to lose himself in a task, a hobby, a conversation, or a book because he has developed his powers of focus and concentration.

“When people are bored, it is primarily with themselves.” –Eric Hoffer

Of course these days, with an iPhone always at hand, amusing yourself isn’t very difficult. Anyone can surf or text the boredom away. The real test for the modern educated man is the ability to entertain himself when technology isn’t available or is not socially acceptable to whip out. Can you entertain yourself at a boring meeting, while camping, while conversing at a dinner party? The educated man can, and he does it, ironically enough, by retaining an important ability of his childhood—curiosity. The educated man is insatiably curious about the world around him and other people. In any situation, he sees something to learn, study, and observe. If he’s stuck somewhere with neither phone nor company,  he uses the time to untangle a philosophical problem he’s been wrestling with; the mind of the educated man is a repository of ideas that he can pull out and examine to pass the time in any situation.

Can Entertain a Friend

If someone is of the dull, non-self-starting kind, lucky is he to have a friend who is an educated man to entertain him!

The educated man is the life of the party, the man who keeps the conversation lively and is known to be unfailingly engaging.

He is able to do this because of the breadth of his reading and his experiences. He has an arsenal of interesting tales at the ready about his travels and endeavors. And he’s up on the latest news stories and interesting scientific break-throughs.  No matter the demographics of the group he’s with, he knows a story that will appeal to them.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example of an educated man who could entertain others. Though Lincoln only had one year of formal education, he read voraciously and dedicated himself to lifelong learning. The result was the ability to talk to anybody about anything and leave them entertained. Adeline Judd, the wife of Illinois Congressman Norman Judd, recounted an experience of being entertained one evening by the musings of Abe Lincoln:

“Mr. Lincoln, whose home,” she writes, “was far inland from the Great Lakes, seemed stirred by the wondrous beauty of the scene and by its very impressiveness was carried away from all thoughts of the earth. In that high-pitched but smooth-toned voice he began to speak of the mystery which for ages enshrouded and shut out those distant worlds above us from our own; of the poetry and beauty which was seen and felt by seers of old when they contemplated Orion and Arcturus as they wheeled seemingly around the earth in their mighty course; of the discoveries since the invention of the telescope which had thrown a flood of light and knowledge on what before was incomprehensible and mysterious; of the wonderful computations of scientists who had measured the miles of seemingly endless space which separated the planets in our solar system from our central sun and our sun from other suns which were now gemming the heavens above us with their resplendent beauty.

“When the night air became too chilly to remain longer on the piazza, we went into the parlor where, seated on the sofa his long limbs stretching across the carpet and his arms folded about him, Mr. Lincoln went on to speak of the discoveries and inventions which had been made during the long lapse of time between the present and those early days when man began to make use of the material things about him. He speculated upon the possibilities of the knowledge which an increased power of the lens would give in the years to come, and then the wonderful discoveries of late centuries, as proving that beings endowed with such capabilities as man must be immortal and created for some high and noble end by Him who had spoken these numberless worlds into existence.”

“We were all indescribably impressed,” continues Mrs. Judd, “by Mr. Lincoln’s conversation. After he had gone Mr. Judd remarked: ‘The more I see of Mr. Lincoln the more I am surprised at the range of his attainments and the wonderful store of knowledge he has acquired in the various departments of science and learning during the years of his constant labor at the bar. A professor at Yale could not have been more entertaining and instructive.’”

Of course among the many subjects the educated man has studied is that of human behavior and psychology, so he knows that people are most charmed when others seemed interested in them. Here Lincoln also excelled; as one of his biographers noted, “Like all truly great men he was a good listener.”

While we’re on the subject, I’d also add that a man should be able to tell a good joke. I guess it’s gone out of fashion to tell real jokes, but I still enjoy them.

Can Entertain a New Idea

This might seem like the easiest one…how hard is it to be open-minded, right?

Well recent research into the way our minds work has shown that far from being the rational beings we flatter ourselves into believing we are, unbeknownst to us, our unconscious is constantly shaping our thoughts, beliefs, and motivations in irrational ways. For example because of “the backfire effect,” when we’re presented with evidence that contradicts our beliefs, instead of changing those beliefs, they become even more entrenched. “The confirmation bias” makes us seek out and only pay attention to new information that confirms our preexisting notions, while we let information that contradicts those notions go over our heads. And “the sunk-cost fallacy” pushes us to stick with a less sensible or desirable option instead of choosing something better, because we’ve already invested time, money, or emotion in it.

In other words, our unconscious minds see our personal ideas as a great treasure, and competing ideas as would-be looters; when they’re detected by the unconscious’ security system, it unleashes the dogs and locks the gate. If you look at a brain scan of people who are listening to a political argument that contradicts their own position, the blood in the part of the brain responsible for rational thought is depleted and is not replenished until the person hears a statement that confirms their position. When confronted with new ideas, your brain literally closes up shop and throws down the blinds until a friendly and well-known visitor knocks at the door.

All of which is to say, the ability to entertain new ideas does not come naturally. Your conscious mind has to turn off the unconscious’ security system and say, “Okay, I know what’s going on here. Let’s not be so hasty. I’m not sure if that’s a looter or a new friend. Why don’t we first check and see?”

Entertaining a new idea doesn’t necessarily mean accepting it and changing your beliefs every time you’re presented with a different take on things. As it has been said, “Be opened-minded, but not so open-minded that your brain falls out.”

Rather, you should entertain an idea in the same way you entertain a guest. You talk with him in a public setting first, at a distance. If you’re intrigued, you then invite him over for a chat. You spend some time getting to know him. And if he turns out to be a bad apple, you stop letting him come around. But sometimes, the person you didn’t think you had anything in common with becomes your new best friend.

The educated man has an easier time in seeing this. His varied experiences and studies have given him multiple opportunities to see how the information he has learned has changed his opinions–even if it took those new ideas a long time to be invited in. The sheltered man who only interacts with people just like him and only reads things that confirm his preconceived ideas will not have these experiences to draw upon, and will thus greet all new ideas like menacing strangers, shaking his fist at them from the safety of the other side of his crocodile-infested moat.

What do you think are the characteristics that define an educated man?


{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bradley October 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

And it’s these “self-starters” that are the innovators/inventors, too! By these standards of an educated man, my best friend is truly brilliant. Great article.

2 Joe Moresky October 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Great article. Enjoyed reading it quite a lot. I know a couple friends who fall short in some of the requirements (mainly entertaining themselves). Love the site and hope to read more great articles soon.

3 Carl October 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale once said “A liberally educated person meets new ideas with curiosity and fascination. An illiberally educated person meets new ideas with fear.” I think that the points above are excellent, and that the most important trait of an educated man is the ability to be proven wrong. Seeing someone’s mind changed in the face of a superior argument always raises my esteem of the mind which has changed far more than for the one which did the changing. I always told my classmates in school that I reserve the right to be proven wrong at any time.

4 Robert October 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Carl has said it wisely. Being open to new ideas means having the strength and humility to let go of old ideas if necessary or warranted.

5 David October 31, 2011 at 12:24 am

This was an absolutely great article. It was well explained and very interesting. Keep up the great work. :)

6 Robert Black October 31, 2011 at 1:17 am

Classic AoM. thanks Brett. This was a fine article with a lot of useful information.

7 Rural October 31, 2011 at 1:33 am

Great write-up. Also, I must admit that I just spent the past 15 minutes imagining Abe Lincoln with a “high-pitched” voice.

8 Sam Lammie October 31, 2011 at 1:57 am

Excellent and aspiring. I would suggest a final characteristic and that would be entertaining Godliness. Abraham, George, and a few others would probably fit.

9 Jordan Howard October 31, 2011 at 2:37 am

Excellent indeed. I think the second characteristic–entertaining others–is too often misperceived. The ability to dazzle someone with useless trivia does not make a man well-educated. Instead it is the man who can invigorate conversations with relevant information and questions who is the true scholar. And that man is, sadly, not always the life of the party.

10 Stan Faryna October 31, 2011 at 3:18 am

You seem to be describing a gentleman – a man at ease with himself, others, and the world in general. And, perhaps more to the point, man with which the world is at ease. So why the superfluous emphasis on the education? [grin]

Consider for a moment the compliment, “You are a gentleman and a scholar.” Observe the necessity to separately illuminate one’s social graces and intellectual accomplishments. C.S. Lewis, for example, may have been a scholar and a gentleman and to have complimented him simply a scholar would have been a slight. But a worse slight would have been to merely compliment Lewis as a gentleman. Because not everyone, in fact, can serve as an Oxford Don.

Furthermore, while I think these three characteristics are worthwhile, they may not be primary. Nor do they speak to intellectual necessities such as the beautiful, the good, and the true. Neither do they speak directly to virtues, morality, nor leadership. So then, here we are, you have described intellectual promiscuities which may serve one to become a gentleman, a scholar, or both. But not without a great education! [grin]

Recently on my blog: What is OWS? And other social media DOHs

11 Tom Mountjoy October 31, 2011 at 4:07 am

Enjoyed your article. It’s always good to think of certain characteristics long forgotten or taken for granted, in the age we live in where everything is being ‘reinvented’ is a pseudo/fear factor kind of way. Being open minded takes cultivation and strength given the external factors surrounding us in increasingly loud and commercial ways. Knowledge has its primacy in the nature of evolution, which is certainly no fad

12 The Dutch Dastard October 31, 2011 at 4:34 am

Great article!

@Carl: Very, very well said. On another note, it is my experience that acknowledging a superior argument in a debate often leaves debaters so completely flabbergasted that they will have a hard time countering your next argument.

I do, though, have to disagree with Stan. I think above stated points primarily reflect the ability to learn. As given in the article, it’s the educated man who entertains himself by learning. This ‘learning’ is a very wide concept. He who learns by reading a book on a subject is just as much learning as the man who learns by exercising his body (which we normally call training).

In entertaining another person comes the ad hoc learning of the nature of the conversation with this other person. True, great stories that will entertain everyone exist (the life of the party), but the true conversationalist will quickly learn about the person he is conversing with (listening), the common grounds between them, and will have the ability to ‘take it from there’.

Common grounds, however, should be regarded as a starting point, and don’t have to be all that common. For example, last night at my rowing club i struck up a conversation with someone who had at one point played a little American Football. I myself have played a little rugby. Common ground: an almost, but not quite similarly shaped ball. From there on, it quickly went to differences between the USA and Britain, and we ended on those differences in WWII. We were slowly learning about each other interests.

As for the ideas, Carl has said it best.

13 Bruce October 31, 2011 at 5:16 am

I first heard what I now know to be Whitehead’s words from my English teacher in 1972 at a private school in Melbourne. They were and still are a great inspiration and, to a degree, my yardstick as to what an educated gentleman is.

14 Max October 31, 2011 at 6:32 am

This is bloody brilliant, brilliant I tell you!

15 Jeremy October 31, 2011 at 6:59 am

Ezra Pound, in an essay about the Jefferson/Adams letters, defined a civilized man as “one who has a serious answer to a serious question, and whose circle of mental reference is not limited to mere acquisition of profit. He may have made no especial study outside of his chosen filed, but his thoughts about that field will be such that this thoughts about anything else will not be completely inane.”

I read that when I was an undergraduate, and it has stuck with me ever since. I particularly like the phrase “circle of mental reference”. I no longer own the book I in which I found this passage, but I can recite it from memory twenty years later.

16 ilija October 31, 2011 at 8:14 am

scotch. thats what was missing haha
but in all seriousness very well written.

17 David Y October 31, 2011 at 8:31 am

Good article.

I think I do reasonable well with the first and third parts of the characteristics. Can entertain myself without problem, and am curious to learn new things to think about(one of the reason I read AOM).

Being a somewhat shy introvert means that entertaining others is not my strong suit however. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad.

18 ADK October 31, 2011 at 8:43 am

Great article… as always!

19 Core October 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

Great article. Learned something new.

20 Jason October 31, 2011 at 9:35 am

Mark Twain – I never let schooling get in the way of my education.

I think the educated man is self-developed. Sure, he might have a titles, degrees, certifications years of college on his resume, but the length and breadth of his knowledge comes from his love of learning new things. I recently watched the first season of The Colony. One of the colonists on the show was Dr. John Cohn, a IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Design Automation for IBM. He holds a PhD in computer engineering and a BS in Electrical Engineering. If you saw him on the show, you would know that his degrees and titles are just a byproduct of his love of science. His eyes lit up when he would design something he never got to do in his day job, and the way he would describe things is infectious. It made you want to go out and do them too.

21 Les Bryant October 31, 2011 at 10:58 am

Great article! I might subsitute “Teach” and “Learn” for the word entertain in many instances. What you are really saying here is that we should learn as much as we can about as many things as we can and share it in a delightful way.

22 locutus83 October 31, 2011 at 11:46 am

A pretty simple but comprehensive set of definitions!
Measuring myself against the three parameters – I think I entertain myself rather well, and consider myself fairly open minded.

But I am not very good at “entertaining” others. I am a bit of an introvert; and, at the back of my mind, I never want to come across as a “show-off” who babbles constantly and endlessly. (There had been occasions in the past when I had talked about things that I really was (and still am) interested in [philosophy, science, science-fiction, history etc.], only to receive blank disinterested stares from people who were not at all interested, even though they claimed they were at the start of the conversation.). These occasions, along with some friendly advice from friends and acquaintances, who told me that I talked too much, and bored people, turned me into a fairly taciturn person; reserved in company. I now prefer to listen and answer in mono-syllables and single sentences; and sometimes “dumb myself down” deliberately. I would welcome some advice on how to present my thoughts and interests in a more entertaining manner, rather than shutting up completely in company.

23 Daren Redekopp October 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

An educated man can offer insights on the world that are uniquely his own, but supported by the evidence.

24 Fritz October 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I had a friend like this when I moved to the Dominican Republic for a couple of years. Well read, could talk about any sport and completely adept engaging complete strangers in social situations. That’s when I first began to realize how important it was to be able to talk about anything with anybody.

25 Karl Staib October 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I think the most important aspect of an educated man is curiosity. When I meet someone that believes that s/he knows everything. It’s a turn off. They are too busy talking to even listen to what someone else has to day.

26 CB October 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

@ David Y & locutus83:
I would describe myself in similar terms however, I know a man who is an introvert who absolutely fits this definition of an educated man. He can be the life of the party and was the founder of a high school youth ministry that is still running after 20-30 years (I forget how long). He’s engaging and a great listener.
10-12 years ago I decided that I could be a introvert like my youth leader. I’m not there yet but I’m still on my way. There have been set backs but I’m further along now than I was then.
Don’t give up on the entertaining others aspect because of being an introvert. It’s harder for us because it doesn’t charge us like it would for an extrovert but it’s certainly not impossible.
Good luck!

27 Stephen October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I think most people change their minds if it’s “necessary”. Just about everyone will quickly reach consensus that the car’s on fire and they have to get out despite having previously believed their car not to be on fire. It’s just surprisingly rarely necessary to change your mind.

Warranted is one of these things that means a lot of different things to different people. I suspect the level of countervailing evidence needed to make me that feel changing some of my core opinions is “warranted” would be higher than that needed for the ones I hold less dear.

28 Kateshrewsday October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I love the ‘can entertain others’ bit. Wilde, Shaw, all the greats: they all had charisma; charm. Not sure all educated men have this, but the ones I take notice of do…great post. Love the photos…

29 Michael P October 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Great article, but the second point doesn’t seem to leave much room for those of us who are introverts. I’m generally very quiet. It makes for being a great listener, but not much for being an entertainer.

(For the record, I recently blogged about introverts, here:

30 david October 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm

By far, the abillity to entertain new ideas will take any one the farthest..just doing the mental exercise to try to see another’s point of validity will make the best of you.

31 Marco October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Someone said once: “The one who never changes his mind is stupid.”

I think this can be applied here too.

Great article, enjoyed reading it!

32 Tom King October 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Just gave my nephew this lecture when he twittered me that he was bored and asked why somebody wasn’t throwing a “party”. I told him an intelligent person is never bored. I like the way Billy Graham put it – only those who want everything done for them can ever be truly bored.

I find it almost impossible to be bored. I have quite the opposite problem. There is never enough time to read all I want to read, see all I want to see, do all I want to do and give all I want to give. How can I ever be bored?


33 Nathan October 31, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I believe that an educated man should also have the ability to speak his mind intelligently. By this I mean he tailors his speech to the audience, and uses the language found commonly in that group.

34 VK October 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Being a self-starter is quite important, but being able to carry on a pleasant dinner conversation does not make you educated nor intelligent. I find it incredibly frustrating when people believe that intelligence is defined by your off-hand dinner comments rather than what you produce in daily life. Being able to tell a great story and entertain people is an effect – living a life worth telling about is the cause.

35 Mohammad October 31, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Great article. For me, the goal of education is the development or cultivation of faculties or excellence with its ultimate end being happiness and a better member of society. As such, education aims at improving the mind through the acquisition of knowledge and skills. However, there are many kinds of education (liberal, moral, religious, professional, physical, etc.). Liberal (or intellectual) education aims at good habits of thinking and knowing (leaning how and what to think) and moral education at good habits of will, desire, and emotion (along with their consequences when acted upon). Religious education is both moral and intellectual. Being a well rounded person, as discussed in another article here, is my ideal goal.

36 Hal October 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Being an educated man means knowing when to shut up. It’s a lost art these days.

37 Jeanne Mock October 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm

This is a great article! Truly, this must be what an educated man is like. Curiosity really is the driving force behind all education!

38 Georgiaboy61 November 1, 2011 at 12:57 am

Brett and Kate, thank you for a well-done column, another in a long line of them. I recommend this site to others almost on a daily basis… keep up the good work.

39 Georgiaboy61 November 1, 2011 at 1:02 am

Tom, re: “I find it almost impossible to be bored. I have quite the opposite problem. There is never enough time to read all I want to read, see all I want to see, do all I want to do and give all I want to give. How can I ever be bored?” I have the same problem; I’ve always been curious to a fault.

Michael P., re: “Great article, but the second point doesn’t seem to leave much room for those of us who are introverts. I’m generally very quiet. It makes for being a great listener, but not much for being an entertainer.” Being a good listener is a wonderful trait to possess; it is an art so few excel at. Cultivate some friendships if you can, because listening makes good conversation possible, just as much as skilled speaking, if not more so.

40 Robert November 1, 2011 at 1:59 am

Really enjoyed this article! What it means to be an educated man, especially in the modern age, is a question thats occupied myself and my friends on some level since mid-college, so this is definitely some good food for thought.

41 Tucker November 1, 2011 at 2:38 am

These are good traits surely, however after I read them for some strange reason I immediately thought of a friend, who smokes pot all day and lives literally in his mothers basement as an adult-he is a big baby, yet carries all three characteristics. Make of it what you will.

42 Tucci78 November 1, 2011 at 3:42 am

Having been condemned for dismissing authoritarian “new ideas” – never, in truth, “new” to me except, perhaps and infrequently, in the various guises presented by their pushers as justifications for their peculiar proposals aggressively violating other folks’ individual human rights – I’ve had a lifetime’s sufficiency of whining about my alleged susceptibility to “the backfire effect” and “confirmation bias” and “the sunk-cost fallacy.”

None of it has been valid as argument, none of it has been supported by reasoned analysis, and in every case it has been proven wrong. The proponents of these “new ideas” voice accusations of “backfire” and “bias” and “fallacy” in response to my rejections of their positions and proposals when, in fact, in order to get to my own conclusions pertinent to these matters – if I’ve considered them at all – I’ve already stepped over the rotting corpses of their “new ideas.”

Almost always to my regret, mind you. I’m no less susceptible to the allure of seductive stupidity than the next man. Most often, the difference between myself these peddlers of “new ideas” to pillage, kidnap, enslave, and generally diddle their neighbors is that I’m aware of my own proclivities regarding normative meddling in other people’s lives, and what grief has always been gotten of such idiocies.

To the extent that one strives to be “an Educated Man,” one accepts the duty to examine the character and quality of how one secures that education, and to engage in consistent and unremitting error-checking to make sure of “what we know that isn’t so.” For such a conscientious individual to concede to the opinions of the numerous and the vociferous in order to avoid being perceived by them to be pig-headed is purest irresponsibility.

It is the betrayal of intellectual honesty. Hell, it’s immoral.

43 Melodie November 1, 2011 at 3:46 am

I enjoyed reading this a great deal. I couldn’t agree more. I love the quotes that are included. I specially agree with the quote “Those who are bored and primarily bored with themselves” lmao, I guess it is good I was left at home to entertain myself so much. :p

44 Tom Smedley November 1, 2011 at 4:10 am

The word “amuse” combines the word “muse” (think, reflect upon, ponder”) with the Greek negating prefix a-. An atheist does not believe in God. An amusement addict does not believe in thinking.

45 Peter November 1, 2011 at 5:16 am

I pretty much disagree with the premise of this article. Like Tucker says, he knows someone that fills each of the criteria presented in this article and he’s a pot smoking, live in his parents basement man child.
Really, I find the article along the lines of the PC attitude “everyone is special”. If someone who reads some books, amuses themselves and can hold a good conversation with anyone is considered educated, what is someone with a PhD? Real education takes time, money and in most cases a hell of a lot of work.
I think someone pointed it out before, that this article more accurately describes a gentleman – to call someone with the above traits educated is somewhat insulting to people who really are educated.

46 Helmet November 1, 2011 at 7:48 am


47 Carl November 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

@The Dutch Dastard, That has been my experience as well. Thank you, by the way.

48 malibu November 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

Enjoyed the article. I’ve noticed another characteristic of an intelligent man. Often times there isn’t a glowing box in their home. As anyone else notice how the cultural marxism has hendered the educational process? Could that be by design?

49 Vinicius November 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

Great article!

50 Chris T. November 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Good article about the points it makes.

However, some comments about illustrative examples:

Lincoln may have fit the bill of these criteria, but despite that he was not a great man. His erudition, learning, knowledge of law did not keep him from the many unconstitutional deeds of first order: improsing state legislators for their dissenting opionions (Maryland), doing the same to scores and scores of dissenting newspaper men, ignoring the writ of habeas corpus, just to name a FEW serious points. Either his knowledge of the law was not that deep after all, or worse, he chose to ignore this.
So, Lincoln is a bad example for the equation educated man = great man.

Another “good” example is Winston Churchill: erudite, witty, charming to some, but a racist, anti-semite, war-monger, just to name some of his major flaws. Yet in no small part to his wit, and ability to make a joke, sharp-riposte, he is also seen as a “great” by main-stream history.

This goes to your point about being able to make a joke:
Certainly not a bad thing in and of itself, but highly overated when judging someone.
The ability to make a joke, because of the way it is seen, serves to detract from what matters.
Ronald Reagan is another great example: witty, yet not nearly as much substance as we are supposed to believe (when comparing his execution to his words).

Finally your point about the”rational” mind, and the various biases you mention dispelling that:
To a large extent, many of the non-addictive psychedelics, such as LSD, Mescaline, the verious phenethylamine derivates do a lot to break those biases.
This is why the state crminializes and demonizes these more heavily than just about anything else. Aldous Huxley realized that after his own experiences when he aptly called his book about it: The Doors of Perception. One part of that is making oneself able to (partially at least) able to see those biases and realize how they can affect one.

Overall good points, just some disagreement with the chosen illustrative examples, and some comments to flesh out.

51 CB November 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm

@Chris T:
I’d be interested in the illustrative examples you would choose if you had written the article.

52 Ben November 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

This article hit home for me. I believe more and more men are becoming less educated everyday. I don’t know how it’s possible to do so, but I see it everywhere. Perhaps, it would be better to say that more and more men are not taking control of their learning. Taking the time to deliberately learn something is a characteristic of an educated man.

Great article!

53 Bruce November 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

The qualities that Brett and Kate list in their articles are admirable ones. Unfortunately, they are not those qualities that define an “educated man”. An educated man, Brett and Kate write, can entertain himself because he retains a childlike “curiosity”. I fully agree that curiosity is a positive quality, and even that it generally leads to an education. But it is not, in and of itself, a quality of an educated man. Why not? Because every two-year-old is both curious and uneducated.

An “educated man” can entertain friends, write Brett and Kate. I’ll fully grant that well educated men tend to be MORE entertaining than ignoramuses. However, we’ve all known college professors who are bores, and high school drop outs that are good company.

Again, some educated men are entertaining, others are not.

Brett and Kate continue by saying that an educated man can “entertain a new idea.” Obviously, one’s willingness to entertain new ideas is essential to BECOMING educated. But some educated men are close minded, and some uneducated men are willing to entertain a new idea. This hardly seems like a defining principle for the “educated man”.

Switzerland is a wonderful country, rich, successful – the birthplace of democracy and of William Tell. But if I were to say, “Switzerland is an island,” people would scoff at me. “No it isn’t,” they’d say. “It’s landlocked.”

“Why should the birthplace of democracy and the homeland of William Tell be denied the glorious title of ‘Island’?” I’d ask.

“Because island means one thing, and Switzerland is something else,” they’d respond.

It is a glorious thing for men (or women) to be able to entertain themselves, others, and new ideas. Some educated men can do so, some can not. We’d all like to be “educated”, but let’s not confuse an education with curiosity, or skill at entertaining, or openness to new ideas. We should use words carefully, so that we say what we mean.

54 Jason Warren November 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm

@ Bruce

As I see it, the point of the article was not to define the attributes of a man who has gone to school to receive an education. The beginning paragraph of the article makes that clear. Rather, they are describing the characteristics of someone who may or may not have formal education (like Honest Abe), who is proactively taking his education from his experience, enriching his own life, and is able to impart this wisdom to others in such a way as to entertain or enrich their lives as well.

I agree that we should say what we mean when we define terms, but the authors were spot on in describing an “educated” man the way they did.

55 Dutch November 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Wow Bruce! Really!

So your definition of what an educated man is is different from theirs so they are wrong.

I can see your objection. By their definition you are the most uneducated dope ever. You are not curious about what someone else thinks, open minded enough to hear it, and instead give us all a lecture that was agonizing and not even slightly entertaining or insightful.

Your post seems to indicate that you measure education solely by “how long you went to school” and hold college professors as the measuring stick for the educated. But in your lacking capacity for thought you have failed to consider that most college professors transitioned to their posts after being career students. Is never leaving the ranks that most of us leave in our early 20′s the sign of an educated man? How about collecting public funds to dictate someone else’s ideas for a living? This is the mark of the smartest among us? What ‘education’ do college professors have in earning money in the private sector? Producing tangible goods or services? Working as a member of a team? Or facing the risk of being fired for poor performance? For most the answer is very little. This hardly makes them the keepers of wisdom.

Furthermore, if a curious 2 year old somehow developed cold fusion while playing with the microwave, would the action of the laws of physics be gated by the fact that he hadn’t taken a college physics class? Absurd. Education is not subject to these conditions that you simply invent so that you can then attack the straw man. All “going to school” (you call it education, I don’t) does is provide you with a set of facts with which to drive your curiosity forward. But without that curiosity, those facts are useless and thus a schooled man fails to be an educated man. Look only at the world we live in and you’ll see this assertion cannot be denied.

Take your anger over whatever failure you are facing this time and apply it somewhere else. This is a nice, fun article, and your needless attack on it is annoying and totally missed the mark.

56 Bruce November 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Why does my post “seem to indicate that (I) measure education solely by ‘how long you went to school’?” I do mention college professors, because they have credentials that acclaim them as educated, and they generally are well educated. However, that in no way implies that those without credentials cannot be equally well educated. Credentials do not make an “educated man” – education does.

The entire point of my post was that commendations that are so general as to be meaningless are worthless. Her e is Henry Tilney discussing the word “nice” with his sister and Catherine Morland, who begins, answered by Henry:

“…But now really, do not you think Udolpho the nicest book in the world?”
“The nicest — by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must depend upon the binding.”
“Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “you are very impertinent. Miss Morland, he is treating you exactly as he does his sister. He is forever finding fault with me, for some incorrectness of language, and now he is taking the same liberty with you. The word ‘nicest,’ as you used it, did not suit him; and you had better change it as soon as you can, or we shall be overpowered with Johnson and Blair all the rest of the way.”
“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?”
“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement — people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.”
The battle over “nice”, of course, has long been lost (Northanger Abbey was written in the 18th Century). However, “educated” seems to me to mean, “Possessing knowledge and skills, especially through instruction or study.” Of course entertaining oneself or others is a skill – but it is a skill that can be practiced by the educated and the ignorant alike. While education may help one be more entertaining, it is not as essential as natural empathy and wit.

Same with “entertaining new ideas”. Of course we should all entertain new ideas, but surely the dopiest ignoramus in the world can do so with a verve equal to that of the most educated of men.

I’ll further grant that being entertaining and open minded is more important than being well educated. I’d prefer my friends to be both – but if I had to choose I’d choose the entertaining and ill-educated person over the educated bore every time. Since this is the case, why do we want to laud those who possess such important qualities as being able to entertain others by calling them “well educated”? I’m guessing that it’s because people value being well-educated, and want to think of themselves as well-educated. But the way to become well-educated is to read, or go to school – not to practice comedy routines for your friends. I’ll fully grant the value of the comedy routines. What I won’t grant is that they are the sign of a “well-educated” man.

57 Bruce November 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

p.s. the Quote is from Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” (which I forgot to cite).

58 Joshua November 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

@ Bruce

Brett and Kate wrote that artcial to inspire people who want to be inspired. you are obviously not one of them. As for the holdng college professors as the ideal educated man i am in college and some of the professors i have may know they subject but throw them off their ivory tower and into the real world and they would not last a moment, because they have no practical expirences or common sense.

59 Miller Industries November 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm


60 Matt November 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Bruce, though I enjoyed the article, I do see your point. The article is well-written (like everything on this site) but does play a little fast and loose with definitions. It might have been better for the authors to have said that these were characteristics of a well-balanced man, since no counter-examples could prove such a statement false; all well-balanced people are engaging and curious. And as the years progress, the pressures of curiosity will always produce education, even if the definitions of the two differ (which they do).

61 GC November 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I always taught my children that to be educated you had to know what other educated people know. That means a classical education to a large extent. You should know how to read in a comprehensive way, write grammatically and intelligently, understand math and geometry, understand history and geography, and be humble in your knowledge, not arrogant.

62 rolland carpenter November 2, 2011 at 1:05 am

Two essentials are natural intelligence and the knowledge/skills required to support yourself. New experiences and the latest information on topics of general interest mark the “educated man”.
The article really describes a likeable educated man. One of the smartest and best informed men I ever knew was widely disliked, and lacked the sparkling personality this essay attributes to an “educated man”.

63 mark November 2, 2011 at 3:46 am

I did not know that there was a term to describe my boss “backfire effect”. Genius.

64 Alexander November 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

Really enjoyed this article, these are certainly skills which many men take for granted or simply ignore. Instead of weighing in with my ideas on the definition of ‘education’ or ‘the educated man’, I’d just like to congratulate Bruce and Dutch and anyone else who posted on this topic. I think I enjoyed reading this debate as much as the original article! I have had similar thoughts on a number of AoM articles – while I agree with the sentiment, the terms and examples used can definitely be challenged. Well done for doing so I say. I think it is exactly this sort of curiosity and scrutiny which relates to the ideal qualities celebrated in the article.

65 claude November 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

@Bruce. Thank you so much for showing us or ignorance and explaining that only your standards can possibly define an educated man. I’ve worked at a university and I can tell you that way too many professors know little outside of the field they teach. In fact, so many of them refuse to stay on top of current topics even in their own field that their knowledge base is useless.

Great article.

I think a beard, like the one in the first pic, is a characteristic of an educated man.

66 David W November 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I’m just getting caught up here, but I am so happy to have read this post! And it was on my birthday no less! So happy birthday to me! (a great present I must say!)

This post resonated with me through and through bc this is exactly what I am on a quest for… And I don’t think I have ever heard it put together so well. You’re right, an educated man is more than books (though it’s a cornerstone). I plan on stealing these three points as the new fundamentals to my life. :)

67 Peter November 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

How amusing the many replies Bruce received merely for speaking his mind. His argument was well thought out and constructive, but of course a couple of people didn’t let that get in the way of their desire to rage out and accuse Bruce of merely being bitter about his own shortcomings. Kudos on a job well done guys. Perhaps you should read Brett’s previous article on logical argument? Just a thought.

68 vpostman November 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Afraid Bruce is right on the money here. A well-educated man has a deep and curated knowledge of many subjects. That’s the definition; a certain attitude may follow from being “educated” but it is not a part of the word’s meaning.

If there’s one criticism I have of AoM, it’s the idealized sort of history that you see in Brett’s articles. Where all old quotes by anyone marginally well-respected have merit by default, and Carl Jung wasn’t a wacky pervert, and statesmen were generally people you could leave your kids with, and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t shoot his neighbor’s dog because he was bitter over a break-up.

I’m not saying we should tone down the nostalgia, but keep it in perspective. The past is in every instance a horrible thing to emulate.

69 Olé November 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I had a thought the other day… how about an article on storytelling? Or maybe how to tell a joke(properly)? I really enjoyed this one.

70 Cameron November 3, 2011 at 1:28 am

I agree with several other comments; a post on how to tell “real” jokes would be an interesting read.

71 Gambit293 November 3, 2011 at 2:21 am

Good article, though I tend to agree with Bruce’s comments; “educated” may not have been the best word choice to capture the spirit of this article. An educated man has accumulated knowledge about the world– likely though not necessarily through formal schooling. The educated man can view life through his understanding of science, history, literature, to keep proper perspective. The opposite would be someone who views life through the lenses of rumor, prejudice, impulse, and superstition– in short an ignorant man. This is all quite distinct, though probably related, to curiosity and the ability to entertain.

72 Gambit293 November 3, 2011 at 2:32 am

Also, I appreciate the final trait discussed in the article. Critical thinking is importent, no doubt. But nowadays, you seem to encounter many who either a) wildly reject or attack everything or b) as discussed in the article, reenforce their existing beliefs through selective criticism. And the Internet hasn’t exactly helped. It’s becoming very easy to band together with others who will reenforce unhinged views.

73 Jack November 3, 2011 at 6:02 am

Outstanding!. I need my son to read this

74 Flaneur November 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

Some absolutely essential concepts. There are, of course, great differences between book smarts and street smarts, but this article does a good job of suggesting the overall traits of “education.” I don’t know if I would have gone the three-types-of-entertainment road, but it was an intriguing and lucid approach. Unfortunately, the U.S (and, increasingly, the industrialized world) has given rise to cultures that praise, perhaps above all else, monetary capital. If you have cash, you have respect. Yet intellectual capital, in all of its varieties, is nearly ignored. Most champion “education” as a means to a monetary end: it will increase your earning power, you will get a better job, you will increase your business savvy, you will get more business contacts, etc. It is a great disappointment that, as the pursuit for monetary capital rises, the thirst for intellectual capital falls. The manner of thinking proposed by this article, and indeed fantastic website and publication series, serves as a life-preserver for the otherwise flailing American culture that is drowning in waves of laziness, ignorance, and greed.


75 Lionel November 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

In my opinion, the most uneducated men are those who never put forth opinions of their own but say how much they like others doing so, or how much they dislike those who disagree those people’s opinions without making their own counterargument.

Other people I would put in the uneducated category are those who think that talking about good aspects of the past means that you’re ignoring bad parts, because for some reason using a quote from a past person means needing to put in a disclaimer. “This quote brought to by a slave owner.” “This historical example brought to you by a man who wasn’t perfect.” Uneducated people lack the ability of nuance.

As for the post, I think these characteristics are dead on. Bruce says that being able to entertain others cannot be a mark of an educated man because some college professors are bores. But then they are not truly educated in the fullest sense, because they have not studied how to be charismatic and human behavior. Yes a child is curious and uneducated, but the characteristics do not stand in isolation and must be yoked to the other attributes. Finally, I cannot conceive of someone you would call an educated man who is also close-minded. I guess it does come down to how you define “educated” but for how I define it, these are all right on the money.

76 CB November 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

You said: “Other people I would put in the uneducated category are those who think that talking about good aspects of the past means that you’re ignoring bad parts, because for some reason using a quote from a past person means needing to put in a disclaimer. “This quote brought to by a slave owner.” “This historical example brought to you by a man who wasn’t perfect.” Uneducated people lack the ability of nuance.”

Thank you for putting that much more succinctly than I would. I absolutely agree. Thanks!

77 Lavinia November 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

English is my 2nd language, but I hope that by “man” you really meant “person” as in “woman” too.
Of course this would apply for a woman as well ….

78 Gordey November 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Only boring people ever get bored.

79 Jonathan November 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm


I just wanted to address this simply because of the recurring complaint, similar to vpostmans, of the men Brett McKay consistently references and quotes on this website (which is one I frequent, amazing job Brett!). I’m more than sure that you and everyone else has heard this before, but apparently bears constant repeating:

Nobody is perfect.

Theodore Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln. All of these Men have very valuable knowledge, stories, and morals to pass down based off their experiences in life. Who are you or anybody to say that their knowledge is ivoid simply because of the faults and mistakes they made in their lifetime? I’m more than sure you know a thing or two plenty of people out there would find valuable. But i’m also certain that you’re no saint and have made your fair share of blunders that you wouldnt want your friends on facebook to know about as well. Does that mean that whatever it is you have to offer “is no good” simply because of the bad things you’ve done? Of course not. It’s completely unfair . You’ve no idea what these men have gone through to do the things they’ve done. These men are admirable because they show what men are capable of. They’re human. It’s supposed to be inspiring.
Why does it seem that everybody these days do their best to find the fault in everything? Like everyone want’s to tear down a good thing, just to prove to themselves that theirs nothing good in life. It’s so depressing!
There’s a simple fact of life everyone needs to realize. Take what is useful and discard what is not. Learn from others’ mistakes, you don’t have time to make all of them yourself. These gentleman knew a thing or two but they were nowhere close to saints. Despite the bad things they’ve done. I think i’m starting to repeat myself, but its justified considering everyone else does the same about this crazy awesome website.
I believe Mark Twain said it best:

“To arrive at a just estimate of a man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours.”

80 RSB November 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I enjoyed this article. I went to a dinner party a few nights ago. I was invited at the last minute (the day before) by a a lady I know whom I suspect was looking for an “extra man” to go to a black-tie dinner. Which doesn’t bother me at all. Quite frankly, a guy who can put on a tuxedo, chat intelligently with the ladies on his left and right — and dance — is probably good to have around these days. So, you can guess all I wanted to do was really stay at home that night and hang around watching tv and contemplating my navel — but of course I said yes and went to this dinner. And I had a great time. And my hostess called me the next morning and told me how much I added to the table. I’m not saying this because I think I really did (though it was nice to hear), but as a man, I have an obligation to all of us to shave well, dress nicely, and make some intelligent conversation at a dinner table. Don’t you think the women (and other men!) in our lives deserve to have a good time when they go out, too? I think if we all thought about other people a but more than ourselves the world might be a better place in many ways.

81 David Mayernik November 4, 2011 at 12:48 am

One the subject of “able to entertain a friend”, its important that you not ramble on for hours at a stretch about just yourself. Conversation is nice, and you should be able to speak on topics other than what you did over the weekend and what you plan to do this weekend. Discuss a game, a book, a bit of news, some topic of mutual interest to yourself and your guests. Its the difference between entertaining, and being selfish.

82 Hannelore November 4, 2011 at 1:35 am

If we use the term “learnt man” to indicate a person who has the original three characteristics described in the article and the term “taught man” to specify somebody who has got formal education, I think we can wrap up the debate, right? Learning can be achieved by different means, formal education is just one of them; being taught things does not guarantee a person really learns anything real and worthwhile – but they can.

83 Nick November 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Well, before I say anything, I’m most likely not as.. Flashy, with my grammar and my vocabulary is certainly not as extensive as the majority of you who so frequently comment on these posts. But, I agree with the characteristics that they mentioned; though they do need some clearing up, as to make them more understandable.

Here’s my take on things:
Being able to entertain one’s self is obviously a skill that an uneducated person can achieve just as well as an educated one.
But, with that education come more substance.
If an uneducated man looks around a room and sees a painting, he might observe the colors and the quality of the painting itself.
But if an educated man looked at that same painting, he might delve further in to his observations and wonder what the meaning is, why the artist painted it the way they did or what it means to them.

Being able to entertain others, once again, is a skill that both the uneducated and the educated can possess.
An uneducated man can start a conversation and keep it going for as long as his knowledge on the subject lasts.
So, it goes without saying that an educated man could be more ‘entertaining’ with his conversational skills, because of the fact of his education.

Having an open mind though, I agree and respectfully disagree.
I agree with the fact that an educated man will have more ease in the matter of contemplating new points of view, ideas, etc.
But, with that being said, regardless of wit or knowledge on other topics; every person is biased or more agreeable with a certain idealogy.

It’s more than education that makes a man open-minded, it’s the willingness to know what other people’s opinions are; it’s the need to see how others experience things and feel about them.

But, that’s just my take on it.
I’m sure someone, somewhere,will disagree with me and have a great rebuddle to what I’ve said.

I’m just a kid in high school though, so, what do I know?

84 mike November 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I might add a caveat. In many ways introversion is a result of higher intelligence. The man who can best entertain himself without the aid of others would be more introverted than others correct? I think that an authentic educated (not merely awarded degrees) man should learn to operate in an extroverted world while maintaining a comfort in pensive, quiet times of life. A man should be just as comfortable with a quiet evening at home with his wife or a book or a film or whatever he enjoys as he is with a group or friends in the hubbub of crowded gaiety. The same might go for the more naturally extroverted man. He should learn the importance of ‘entertaining himself,’ as much as the pensive, somber man should learn to converse.

85 douglas page November 5, 2011 at 7:24 am

“An educated man has been defined as one who can entertain himself, one who can entertain another, and one who can entertain a new idea.” Hit home with me. I work within a scientific federal agency populated with PHD scientists. The folks for the most part are self centered non-listening, stuck on their own ideas. Albeit, some are world renown and I respect their passion for what they do. The point I’m making is the education perspective. Those without advanced degrees are for the most part persona non grata, you are not a “Dr.”, so your opinion is worthless, and I don’t want to hear it.
I appreciate the aticles from this web site. As a middle aged (50′s) male, what happened to our society?, our government, privacy, personal manners, thoughtfulness, empathy, all that makes for a good man and human being seem to be slowly going away. It makes me sad but also makes me try to be a better person.

86 DrewBlanco November 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

This is an amazing article. It hits the nail on the head. I used to do these things without the article but it also helps to be conscious of them. Brett Mckay and Kate Mckay have created a wonderful reference for men these days.

As far as education goes, I can’t think of over things that don’t overlap with these. I also think that continuosly learning new skills adds to this list.

87 Denise November 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I would love to show this article to those who judge a person’s character mainly through their formal education (ahem, my parents). I have argued time and time again with various relatives that education alone does not shape a person’s worth and intelligence. I am in school for my doctorate and my boyfriend only has a college degree but I love and value his mind, wit, and charm. A person can learn as much in the classroom as through their interaction in life and their willingness to evolve for the better.

88 Fernando November 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm

I find it funny that most of those criticizing Bruce didn’t take the time to actually read what he wrote. I agree that the definitions in this article are loose and (I’ll add) that makes the content fluffy. “Educated” here (and for Whitehead) means “polite” and not necessarily “learned” – the whole point I think Bruce was getting at. A more apt title would have been “Three Characteristics of an Entertaining Man”.

Education is more than book learning, of course. Education is development and sensitivity (a word suspicioulsy absent in this article). Reading, creating art, contemplating, meditation, traveling are paths to knowledge of the world inside and out . Travel any of those paths well enough and chances are you’d be more than just educated; you’d be a developed person and one that would easily ecompass all the things this article is trying to communicate.

89 Sebastien B. Vlamynck November 8, 2011 at 6:49 am

Spot on!

90 the Fallguy November 9, 2011 at 9:25 am

Knowing the difference between “knowledge” and “wisdom”.

91 A. Ruiz November 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I prefer the word “intellectual” over “educated”, because I know many people who were intellectual before they were educated and many educated people who will never be intellectuals.

92 Barry November 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I’d say at least two characteristics that define an educated man are the knowledge of, and the willingness to use proper grammar. Second, the appreciation for the importance of the arts. This second point needs some explaining, I think.
Let’s take opera for an example. I don’t like opera. I’ve never been to an opera, and I’m fairly certain I will never attend an opera. If I were uneducated, my reaction the opera may be “Opera is stupid. I don’t like opera. I don’t know how anyone can listen to it. Opera is stupid.” The educated man’s reaction would likely be “I don’t like opera, and I don’t know how anyone can listen to it. However, opera has a rich tradition in Italy and Germany and so I can appreciate that . People who enjoy opera often enjoy other arts as well, and are willing to donate money to further its appreciation. In fact,a healthy arts community is good for my town and business. But I still don’t like it”.

93 Charlie Bernardo November 11, 2011 at 1:58 am

A great number of men are absolute blanks when it comes to biblical literacy. They couldn’t tell you the difference between Agag and Ahab for love or money.

94 Chankey Pathak November 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

wow! great article.

95 Lord_Steven November 13, 2011 at 6:06 am

Boooring ….


Only a bit unnerving as I don’t seem to fit much in these criterias

96 Clyde November 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

I agree with the previous post’s. I think what the author is describing is more of a renaissance man. He is a man who is educated, or at least acquainted with, many diverse topics. He can talk to anyone about anything, as the article suggested. I have challenged myself to become more well rounded and my goal is to able to carry on a conversation with anyone from the barber to the quantum physicist.

I don’t think this article was meant to be a comprehensive list of characteristics. It is a good start though.

97 Germán November 15, 2011 at 4:57 am

Interesting. Where did you get the following paragraph information from?

“If you look at a brain scan of people who are listening to a political argument that contradicts their own position, the blood in the part of the brain responsible for rational thought is depleted and is not replenished until the person hears a statement that confirms their position. When confronted with new ideas, your brain literally closes up shop and throws down the blinds until a friendly and well-known visitor knocks at the door.”

98 tim_lebsack November 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

A fine article, an excellent exposition on the subject.
To learn more, I highly recommend Louis L’Amour’s autobiography “Education Of A Wandering Man”.

99 Nick Thacker November 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm

This post is golden. Right on.

I like to think of myself as an “educated” man, so it’s nice to see what the perspective you have on what an “educated” man is–thanks for making me think, and for reminding all of us men to take a break and let nature and life itself keep us company every once in awhile.


100 Jeffrey November 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I really enjoyed reading this article, enough to leave a comment :) The attributes or characteristics of an educated man that are listed are good ones to develop or hone. Although to entertain oneself, a friend, or an idea cannot possibly include every attribute that an educated possesses in my opinion. An educated man must provide a service; impart knowledge, motivation or leadership to the society or community to which he is a part of. An educated man has the foresight to see that entertaining himself or the people around him does nothing for the generation that will follow him in developing the world, society and community into which they are an integral part.

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