“As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong, principled character.” Stephen R Covey
Put another way, too much knowledge in the hands of someone who does not have the maturity to handle it properly presents a danger to others.
The third of Gandhi’s Deadly Sins is “Knowledge without Character”.
In the UK police they have a way of assessing information, called the 5x5x5 system. Part of the decision process is a decision as to whom the information can be safely disseminated. Part of that assessment is based on how secure the information will be when it gets to its ultimate storage facility. In other words, can who gets it – organisation or individual – be trusted to keep it secure?
That applies to criminal intelligence (and anti-terrorist etc.), but what about knowledge in general? Let me use some silly examples.
Would you show a 5-year old how to fire a gun without adding the safety talk? Catch question – even the safety talk wouldn’t make it acceptable to teach an infant how to shoot, especially when they see how little that matters on telly. The man shot at 6pm appears in another programme, safe and well, at 7.
But in this particular context we are talking in terms of values. Would you disclose knowledge that has potential impact, to someone you know is a liar, or full of his/her self-importance (“Guess what I know!”)? Would you show a radical Iranian cleric how to create a nuclear bomb (if you could help it)? Would you tell anyone your credit card PIN?
Of course not. They say ‘with power comes responsibility’, and they are right. Knowledge come with responsibility, too.
But it might be a good idea to ensure that only the responsible are provided with some knowledge! You know them – they have (good) character, are usually competent, and have the self-discipline to treat knowledge appropriately. They are First and Second Resolution compliant.