Thoughts on the “beating a dead horse era” and “sawdust knowledge” – some of the effects of exploiting things to death

In a recent conversation I said something interesting (I’m not sure what to make of it though):

We were talking about people inventing things.  I made the remark that just about every conceivable invention has already been thought up.  In short, whatever invention you can dream up with, someone else has probably already come up with it.  I said that many of these ideas don’t become known or marketable for a number of reasons:

  • They don’t appear at the right time.
  • Their merchandizing is not effective.
  • Its become lost in the blur of inventions.

I went on to say that this refers to things as they stand today.  I am not saying that nothing will ever be created again . . . there’s always something new that appears.  But with the mentality, resources, abilities, etc. that are available today things are pretty much exploited as much as they are going to be.  There are thousands, probably millions, of people who are continuously looking at trying to develop things nowadays.  Not only are there a multitude of people but hours and hours and hours are being spent looking at ways to exploit things.  Many peoples entire lives are being spent trying to exploit things.  And, remember, this isn’t just a few people here and there.  This is thousands, perhaps millions, of people doing this.  For many people this is their living, their job . . . and this probably goes into the millions of people.  In addition, there are schools, colleges, and universities that teach this.  And there are thousands of these all over the world.  The point being is that there are thousands, probably millions, of people that are continuously looking for ways to exploit and invent things.  Because of this, just about everything that can be dreamed up has been dreamed up.

But, keep in mind, that this is with the mentality, resources, abilities, etc. that is available at the time.  Of course, we must remember that anything new may appear in the future that opens up whole new ways to exploit things, offer new inventions, and new markets.  This can happen at any time.  But most of the markets today have been here for some time and every conceivable idea has been explored . . . remember that thousands, or millions, of people are looking at it!  A good example is the digital market which, many years ago, opened up a whole new area of inventions and a whole new market.  Everybody and their dog were looking at ways to exploit it, and it has gone a long way, but soon that will dry up.  In fact, it seems to me that this market has been exploited so extensively that it may be on the verge of being exploited to death, though that’s not how it may appears at first glance.  As it appears to me, most so-called “advancements” in the digital field is, in actuality, nothing but a refinement of existing things . . . its not as new or novel as it seems.

If anything new does appear people are “on it” so fast that it could be exploited to death in a matter of years or even months.  There are so many people involved in this process, so much money invested, so much resources to be used, and so much money to be made that any possible avenue is explored to the point that there is nothing more to explore.  In short, nowadays, it doesn’t take long before things become a matter of “beating a dead horse”.  As a result of this, I jokingly said that we are in the “beating a dead horse era”.  That’s how it seems to me anyways.

This got me to thinking . . .


One of the interesting effects of this”beating a dead horse”, it seems to me, is that it creates a lot of “false knowledge”.  I speak of this knowledge as “sawdust knowledge”.  I call it “sawdust” because its like the sawdust that comes about from cutting wood.  Sawdust consist of bits and pieces of the wood that is used to make the finished product.  But, even though its part of the finished product, it is really nothing but waste. In this way, “beating a dead horse” is much like sawdust as it is creating a lot of “waste knowledge” from knowledge that is useful.  One could also call it things such as “frivolous knowledge”, “worthless knowledge”, and “illusionary knowledge”.

This “sawdust knowledge” is bits and pieces of facts and information that really don’t mean anything but only appear to be.  It comes about as a result of endlessly and continuously looking at things with the intent of finding something.  In other words, its the after-effects of trying to find something when there is nothing to find.  This shows some aspects of the process of seeking for something:

  • The need.  This refers to what you are seeking.  In regard to inventions, nowadays, its usually money and profit.  In some cases, though, the need for creating inventions is a practical need to solve a problem.
  • The looking.  This refers to the mental “seeking”.  It includes the planning, abstract thought, and such required in seeking for something.
  • The creating.  This requires the “doing” of trying to solve the need.  It could be something like building an invention.
  • The fabrication.  This refers to what is actually created to satisfy the need.
  • The satisfaction.  This refers to the need being satisfied by the fabrication.

In “beating a dead horse” all the processes above are performed except for the last, the satisfaction.  This causes something like a frustration.  In this way, the frustration causes a tendency to as if “create” some for of satisfaction in order to get rid of the frustration.  In other words, the condition of “beating a dead horse” tends to create a frustration which causes a tendency where people want the frustration to end.  One effect of this is that they tend to create, to the satisfaction of their own minds, something like little “answers” that aren’t answers, in order to end the frustration.  This is “sawdust knowledge”.  Its intent, then, is to end frustration.

The frustration is particularly intense for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Money
  • Social status
  • Pride
  • Competition

What we see, then, is that a lot of the frustration is not a result of a need, such as that there is actually a need for the invention, but other ulterior motives having nothing to do with the need for invention.  To put it another way, the frustration isn’t caused by the need for inventions!  This is an important point to understand . . . its not about inventions but the various forms of human strife (such as money, pride, and such . . . see above).  The dilemma of human strive gives this frustration a particularly “severe” and “serious” quality.  This is because various things are at stake . . . one’s livelihood, ones pride, ones dominance in the marketplace, etc.  You see, they are “threatened”.  This gives it the quality of being “severe” and “serious”.  This makes the frustration much more intense and, accordingly, the tendency of “sawdust knowledge” to be more stronger.

Now, the need that creates inventions seldom are motivated by being “threatened”.  This can happen, in some cases (such as the need to create a bigger weapon in war), but its not normal.  Most inventions happen “casually”.  That is to say, someone comes up with something that “happens” to have value and use.  As a result, the normal need of invention seldom creates a need so strong that a great frustration is created when its not satisfied.  In this way, the normal need of invention seldom creates “sawdust knowledge”.  What it shows is that a lot of inventions aren’t created by necessity and need, as is generally supposed.  Instead, human strife is a greater cause for inventions than need.  I would even go on to say that if “pure” need for inventions were the only thing that motivated invention then very little would of been invented!  I believe that to be true.  This means that we really don’t need all the inventions we think we need!  In actuality, the need for inventions is a big grand illusion, a false need.  It no surprise, then, that it creates “false knowledge”.

What all this shows is that “sawdust knowledge” is rooted in a sense of being “threatened” causing a need so strong that it cannot stand any frustration.  As a result, it takes things, such as these, as more than they really are:

  • “Little truths”
  • “Little answers”
  • Information
  • Facts
  • Fabrications

Its almost as if the need is so strong that it makes people “need to believe” whatever is available.  This “need to believe” is far more prevalent, nowadays, than it may seem.  One of the reasons why include the need to believe in something which is so prevalent today.  This tendency is caused by things like:

  • The failure of religion
  • The failure of culture
  • The confusion of beliefs
  • The prevalence of too many opinions

In this way, “sawdust knowledge” reveals a failure of belief and, accordingly, a “need to believe” . . . in anything.  I can see that, behind this, is many people who have nothing to believe in but, deep down, want to believe in something.  I would even say that some people have become “desperate”.

Some ways of how “sawdust knowledge” is created includes:

  • There is a lot of words that doesn’t say anything.  I’ve seen whole books that is nothing but a bungle of words that don’t really say anything.  Why they are being published I don’t know.
  • It is basically restatement of existing knowledge.  I’ve seen cases where this is so convincing that it does, in fact, appear new.  But, if one looks closer, one can see that many “new” discoveries are really restatements.  I would say that most ideas and books are nothing but restatements. 
  • Its a mixture of different forms of existing knowledge that appears to be new.  Often, new discoveries are a combination of things that are already known.  This may or may not create useful “new” knowledge.
  • It applies a new point of view that makes it appear “new”.  This really amounts to looking at the same thing from a new angle.  It often appears “new” but really isn’t.
  • It consists of small changes or nuances.  Some “new” discoveries are not a whole lot of different than saying “its not blue, its blue with a slight shade of green”.
  • They focus on trivialities.  Often, a lot of knowledge is nothing but focusing on small trivialities and details, treating them as if they are big things.  In reality, they are not that big of a deal.  I’d say a lot of “education” and learning is nothing but trivialities. 
  • It is made up.  I’ve seen many forms of knowledge that is basically made up out of the blue with no basis in anything.  Often, these are associated with some “known” thing that make it appear “legitimate”.  This is far more prevalent than it seems.
  • They see things that aren’t there.  Many people see things because they want to see them.  This becomes the “new” discovery.  Because of the necessity of creating “new” knowledge for degree’s, ones job, etc. this a lot more prevalent than it may seem.
  • They fabricate alternate points of view that appears “new”.  In some cases, an alternate viewpoint is treated as “new” knowledge.
  • They make assumptions.  A lot of knowledge, nowadays, is really based on pre-assumed assumptions.  Whether believe it or not depends on whether you accept the assumptions or not.
  • They jump to conclusions.  Many “new” discoveries are really people getting ahead of themselves.
  • They reflect a “fantasized world”.  Some people base a “new” knowledge on an image of how they would like things to be.  This “fantasized world” is treated as “new” knowledge.
  • Its molded or modified to fit what the system wants.  A great deal of knowledge has ulterior motives nowadays, such as its a means for a grade, a degree, or money.  As a result, knowledge is often “tweeked” in order to make it fit what the system wants.  This is a lot more prevalent than it may seem.
  • Its actually speculation.  A lot of knowledge, nowadays, is nothing but speculation but they treat it as if it is fact.  Contrary to popular belief a lot of science is nothing but speculation.  In fact, most “science” isn’t based in the “scientific method” at all but an involved and intricate form of “speculation”. 
  • They only look at things from a narrow viewpoint or perspective.  They do not look at things from a “big picture” perspective but only from their specific point of view.  This is very prevalent, from my observation.  Interestingly, the more narrow the viewpoint the more “new” it appears!

Overall, “sawdust knowledge” is creating false knowledge and false world views.  In fact, I tend to feel that “sawdust knowledge” is causing a dissolution of knowledge.  To put it another way, “sawdust knowledge” is hacking knowledge to death Soon, we won’t know what’s truth or not truth.  Everywhere you turn, there will be endless information . . . but what of its truth, its authority?


There is a close association between authority and knowledge.  In short, authority makes knowledge.  Without authority knowledge is just “information”, a statement.  Basically, “sawdust knowledge” is creating nothing but a bunch of “information” that doesn’t mean anything (that is, it doesn’t have any authority).

With the fall of religion, culture, nations, etc., that has happened recently, there has become a fall in authority.  More specifically, there has become a fall of a “centralized cultural authority”.  Its this authority that has made knowledge relevant in any society since the beginning of time.  Its fall is a tragedy, far more than anyone, that I know, seems to realize.

The “centralized cultural authority” creates a “unity of authority”.  This makes it so that everyone tends to interpret everything the same way, a “unity of interpretation”.  This creates a “unity of truth” in any knowledge in that society.  This ends up creating a belief, in that culture, that their knowledge is “ultimate knowledge”, all that there is to know.  Since this is something that is found in that culture its authority is not accepted by other cultures.  It shows that the culture defines the authority, which defines the interpretation, with defines the truth of knowledge in a society.  In other words, knowledge, or the authority of knowledge, is culturally basedAs a result, the fall of the “centralized cultural authority” therefore, has undermined knowledge. 

For the past 300 years or so Western society has been living under its own “unity of authority”.  This made it so that we all interpreted things in the same way, a “unity of interpretation”.  This gave the illusion of “ultimate truth” to us, that our truth was “ultimate”, all that there is.  Now, with the fall of culture, and the many other points of view that the world has offered, the “unity of authority” of Western society has been shattered.  This has caused a basic dilemma of interpretation and the authority of interpretation.  In this way, its caused a dilemma of knowledge . . . where, then, does the authority of knowledge lie?

This same situation, interestingly, has happened in Western history.  With the Protestant Reformation the authority of the Catholic Church was shattered.  As a result of this there became many different interpretations of Christianity and the Bible.  The effect of this is that Christianity shattered into a thousand pieces, much like a glass hitting the floor.  It seems, to me, that we may be seeing a similar scenario.

With the fall of the “unity of authority”, and authority in general, a lot of knowledge is no longer based in a “centralized cultural authority” . . . there is no longer a cultural basis.  Knowledge seems to be becoming relevant only from specific narrow point of views.  These include:

  • Personal.  This refers to what is important to ones self.
  • Abstract logic.  This means that “what makes sense” becomes “authority”.
  • Social.  This refers to fitting things in the current social context that one is in.
  • Trend and fad.  This means that trend and fad are “authority”.
  • Already accepted ways.  A good example is “formal” ways of looking at things such as University-based thinking, accepted scientific thinking, and such.

In other words, the authority of interpretation of knowledge is actually narrowing down to either the person or are becoming “secular”, “mass society based” or “popular” in orientation.

One of the things we see is that they are lacking a base in things like these:

  • Real world reality.
  • Ones association with world.

Why is this important?  Because, for any knowledge to be “relevant”, it needs a base in the “authority of the real world”.  This, in many cases, is greatly lacking in knowledge nowadays.  In fact, the lack of authority in real world reality is a conspicuous absence in knowledge nowadays.  It shows that people are moving away from the real world into the “mental fabrications” of humanity and what it has created.  In other words, people are “losing touch with life”.


A big problem I’m seeing, nowadays, is that any information is starting to be taken as “fact”, what I call “any-information-as-fact”.  There seems to be levels to how this is done:

  • Fact.  They just assume it to be true.
  • Scientific truth.  They assume it is “proven” in some way.
  • Sacred truth.  This is like it was written in the Bible.

Because of these, even though the knowledge is just information and without authority, they are taken as more than they are . . . the information is automatically “fact” which means that it is “correct”.

Some forms of ways that things are taken as “fact” include:

  • Speculation
  • Assumptions
  • Opinions

More and more I see people taking these things as fact.  In fact, I’m seeing a group of people, nowadays, that will believe anything that is told them or that they read.  This seems particularly prevalent in the younger generation.  Basically, there has developed a lack of “discernment” nowadays.  This refers to the ability to determine, or discern, what is true or not, relevant or not, meaningful or not.  This lack of discernment is very prevalent in the younger generations and people who are educated.  Is it any wonder?  Lets look at a common quality in their life:  They spend hours “absorbing” what the social media, internet, school system and professors dish out.  In short, their life is one of blind following.  As a result, they do not learn to discern.  Because of this, they tend to believe everything . . . and blindly.  This condition has created several generations of people who accept every bit of information as “fact”.  And we see several of the reasons why:

  • Too much media.
  • Too much schooling.

In both cases, we see the issue of being “too much”.  There is “too much” of many things nowadays.  And we must remember that this being “too much” is another way of saying “beating a dead horse”.  So what we see is that there are now generations that have made “beating a dead horse” a way of life and accept any-information-as-fact.


It seems, to me, that the Western point of view of things is being exhausted and worn out.  The Western point of view has been “gone over” so many times, from every angle, by probably millions of people.  It has become a “beating a dead horse”, or so it seems to me.

Much of knowledge, and I mean from the Western point of view, is much like the movies.  Me and my cousin used to go the movies a lot.  After words, I’d try to think up all these different plots for a movie.  What I found is that every plot I came up with has already been done!  This is true with movies, in general.  In fact, the movie business is something in a crisis as a result.  There is really no longer “new” plots but, rather, “repackaged” plots, with a different setting, different characters, fancy graphics, and such.  Often, they have to mix plots.  The same crisis that is happening in movies is happening in knowledge.  In this way, any “new” knowledge is a “repackaged” knowledge, much like the movies.  Interestingly, just like the movies, knowledge is getting its “fancy graphics” to impress everyone as well, but that doesn’t change the fact that its still “repackaged”.  To me, there seems a big similarity between the movies and knowledge.  I guess this isn’t that surprising for, really, isn’t knowledge a form of a “plot”?  It has its own characters, motives, action, etc.?  I thought this similarity quite interesting.

It seems, to me, that a lot of knowledge and inventions are based on already existing things that were pretty much established by about the 1960’s or 1970’s.  In other words, anything “new” is really something originating from that time, or earlier.  All that has happened since then is that it was “repackaged”.  There is a number of ways its “repackaged”:

  • By elaboration.  This is expanding on existing things, making them more elaborate and involved.  A good example is automobiles or the TV which has more functions and features.
  • By mixing.  This is mixing of several different existing entities together to create something new.  A good example is the calculator and TV to create the computer.
  • By refining.  By taking something existing and looking at its details, making them more “smoother” and better.  A good example is something like graphics, which was simple and crude but slowly refined to the point that it looks almost real.

If all this is true then it would mean that the basic principles of “modern world thinking” was exhausted by the 1960’s and 1970’s.  We’re just been elaborating on it since then.  This is why I often call the era since 1980’s the “era of elaboration”. 

Some of the reasons why the Western point of view has become exhausted include:

  • Too many people in school.  There’s too many people looking at the same information from the same point of view with the same motive.
  • Its associated with business.  This makes it something that is “looked into” and “invested in”.  In some cases this is to the tune of millions, and even billions, of dollars.
  • It is too established in the system.  This makes the system “dependent” on it.

These create a condition of all these “peering eyes” into the Western point of view and what it creates.  It has exhausted this point of view and perspective, or so it seems to me.


I have questioned if I am contributing to “sawdust knowledge” and creating a lot of “waste knowledge”, particularly through this blog.  As for me, personally, I don’t believe I am.  I have no ulterior motives and am not motivated by being “threatened” (a common cause as I’ve described above).  I make no money for this, I am part of no organization, I am part of no profession.  I do not represent any organization or particular point of view.  I do not care for public opinion . . . I really don’t care if people agree or disagree with me.  My motive is primarily to satisfy a personal inquiry, to describe life as it appears to me, describing it as truthfully and honestly as I can.  I do not seek facts or information or knowledge, really.  What I seek is insight . . . more specifically, a personal insight.  I make no claims that I am “right”, that I have found the “truth”, or that I have the “answer”.  To be frank, I see myself as something like an artist painting a picture of what I am seeing . . . that is all.  That is what this blog is about.  In a way, each article is something like a “sketch”.   This is a totally different condition than what causes “sawdust knowledge”.  But other people, who have the “sawdust knowledge” mentality, could turn it into that but that does not reflect my intentions.

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Education and learning, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Science and technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s