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Information overload can be dangerous. Sometimes, you must force yourself to slow down and think. It is suggested that thinking can be difficult under conditions of overload because information on one topic can suddenly knock other information out of our thought-processing queue.
There is a third type of memory where the actual storage function occurs. This is called long-term memory. This is the area of memory where your suddenly-needed, emergency-operating skills are stored. The mental impulses needed to stimulate the motor skills to function in a sudden-onset situation are located in this area. It takes effort to retain skills within this aspect of our memory bank.
You must work at remembering if you are to learn life-and-death skills. There are a number of laws of learning. For this commentary it is necessary to discuss the following:
Exercise deals with the number of times a skill is practiced. Disuse speaks to the thought that those skills that we do not use are lost at some point (use it or lose it). Frequency deals with how often you exercise a particular skill and recency refers to those things you have done most recently.
No one is born with a particular skill. We all need to be taught the skills necessary to succeed in life. If we are lucky, we grow up in an environment wherein education is a valued commodity.
You have a choice on how you can live your life. You can choose to be stupid, you can choose to be ignorant, or you can opt to be both. No one is forcing you to remain ignorant. I am not saying that knowledge is a cure for stupidity. Knowledge is only a cure for ignorance.
How you choose to use your acquired knowledge can have an impact on your level of stupidity. Let me use an example to make my point. When you were young, your parents probably told you not to touch the bubbling tea kettle on top of the stove. Perhaps their warning served only to whet your curiosity. Prior to touching the kettle, you could be presumed to be ignorant of the consequences of your action. If you were anything like me, warnings from your parents were seen more often as a challenge to meet rather than as a cause not to do something. Therefore, I would presume that you too at one time touched that kettle. The ensuing boo-boo was a painful reminder of your mistake.
At this point, you had new knowledge. How you and I used this hard-won information helped to determine the absence or presence of stupidity in our lives. Let me assure you that any kettle-touching incidents, after the first learning experience, were surely accidental. To have kept touching the kettle on purpose would have been just plain stupid.
It is my suggestion that each of you devote more time to the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge has helped to smooth out the rough roads I have faced during my lifetime. Yes, there have been bumps, glitches and missteps. However, the greater the level of usable knowledge in your memory bank, the better the chance that you will do the proper thing at the right time.
Every day is an opportunity to start fresh. You are at a fork in the road of life. The choices are yours. As Yogi Berra said, â€œWhen you come to a fork in the road, take it.â€
Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE is a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor. A municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ, he is the former president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Currently the chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for Howell Township District 2, he retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department in 1999 as a battalion commander. He also served as chief of training and commander of the Hazardous Materials Response Team. Dr. Carter is secretary of the United States Branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers of Great Britain (MIFireE). You can contact him through at firstname.lastname@example.org.