As I rode home from Tallinn yesterday with some friends, the conversation drifted to what is going on in Syria. We all knew what the media has reported and based on that we speculated about what might happen next. But suddenly we discovered that there was an odd gap in our knowledge. None of us (me included) had any idea of how many people actually live in Syria. What is its population? One guess was 50 million. Another was 5 million. That is a pretty big spread. I guessed that the population is no more than 20 million. And this morning I find out that it is actually 22 million.
It is not a big deal. Or is it? We all felt that we were pretty well informed about Syria before we noticed that we are not well informed at all. We actually only know what we had read. What others have chosen to tell us. We know very little about Syria as a place, its history and its people. This got me wondering how many other big gaps are there in my knowledge of stuff that is important. It also got me wondering how much I rely on others to define for me what is important to know. Hmmm ….