Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge. What do we mean when we say we ‘know’ something? When Carl Jung said ‘I do not believe in God, I know…’, did he mean the same thing as I do when I say ‘I know that 3 plus 4 are seven’, or ‘I know that object is blue’.
There are two interesting tracks in Epistemology relevant to Poker. I will cover just one now (and very briefly). The second is skepticism which I will get to another day.
It has to do with two different ‘kinds of knowledge’ – conceptual knowledge (know about), and practical knowledge (know how).
Lets quickly take losing weight. We all (conceptually) know about losing weight – fewer calories and more exercise (broadly). Some of the fattest people could probably reel off the calorie count of half the items in the supermarket. It does no good.
‘Know how’ is the ability to do that which we ‘know about.’ What becomes interesting is someone who says, ‘I know HOW to exercise, I just don’t’. We should treat this skeptically – KNOWING HOW to exercise is more than just knowing what to do at the gym, it is KNOWING HOW to get your body to the gym.
Take a Poker parallel. I may ‘know’ that I can check-raise bluff this river profitably – villain never has more than a pair. But, if in the moment, I freeze, ‘wait for a better spot’ or otherwise chicken out, do we really know HOW TO check raise bluff rivers? If we can’t overcome the anxiety (of putting in a lot of money with no hand), or the habit (of sitting on the couch rather than going to the gym 3-4x per week), can we accurately say we KNOW HOW rather than KNOW ABOUT?
The second point is that conceptual knowledge can be the enemy of personal change. This is important, because you could say that CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE is the bedrock or foundation of practical knowledge. In fact, it can be the enemy of PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE. How many times do we wave off advice, ignore criticism, or opportunities to learn and change thinking ‘I KNOW THAT’. I see this in my programs on personal effectiveness (time management) – people ‘know about’ time management (because it is pretty simple), but they suck at it. They let the fact that the CONCEPTS are simple get in the way of the hard work of applying them.
When it comes to personal change, improving, learning, growing, KNOWING ABOUT is the booby prize.