Collection: Charlie Munger - #170 'Two Kinds of Knowledge'



[Transcript]

CHARLIE MUNGER 00:00

I frequently tell the story of Max Planck, when he won the Nobel prize and went around Germany giving lectures on quantum mechanics.


And the chauffeur gradually memorized the lecture and he said, “Would you mind, professor Planck, just because it's so boring staying in our routines, would you mind if I gave the lecture this time and you just sat in front with my chauffeur's hat?” And Planck said, “Sure.”


And the chauffeur got up and he gave this long lecture on quantum mechanics, after which a physics professor stood up in the rear and asked a perfectly ghastly question. And the chauffeur said, “Well, I'm surprised that in an advanced city like Munich I get such an elementary question. I'm going to ask my chauffeur to reply.” (Laughter)


Well, the reason I tell that story is not entirely to celebrate the quick wittiness of the protagonist.


In this world, we have two kinds of knowledge. One is Planck knowledge — the people who really know. They've paid the dues, they have the aptitude. Then, we've got chauffeur knowledge — they have learned to prattle the talk and they have a big head of hair. They may have fine timbre in the voice. They really make a hell of an impression. But in the end, they've got chauffeur knowledge. I think I've just described practically every politician in the United States. (Applause)


And you are going to have the problem in your life of getting the responsibility into the people with the Planck knowledge and away for the people who have the chauffeur knowledge. And there are huge forces working against you.


My generation has failed you to some extent. We are delivering to you, in California, a legislature where only the certified nuts from the left and the certified nuts from the right are allowed to serve and none of them are removable. That’s what my generation has done for you, but you wouldn’t like it to be too easy would you?


(Source: https://youtu.be/jY1eNlL6NKs)

 

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