The Knowledge Puzzle

Using knowledge is like building a puzzle. We spend years gathering bits of knowledge and experience at universities under esteemed professors or labs under respected scientists. These bits of knowledge are the puzzle pieces. An individual puzzle piece is a part of a larger picture, as a bit of knowledge is only a small piece of something greater. I envision a puzzle that alleviates suffering from disease for as many people as possible, and I build this puzzle with the pieces I have.

I spent years learning about biological structures, virology, and public health. Those years weren’t spent to become an academic, writing about my knowledge and insights. I learned with intentionality and purpose. I learned to use that knowledge to better the world around me. Disease is costly, both financially and mortally. If what I know could help to prevent costly suffering, I must do so.

My memory is organized around meaning, how a piece of information fits into an overall picture. This all serves as the guide for what I should be doing, helping me understand the world. The more you know about human culture and history, the more things fit in. It includes every aspect of humanity: art, geography, sociology. Knowledge of the humanities is very important to understanding whatever you choose to do in life. You have to think about a human problem very broadly, not from a narrow perspective.

Understanding science only takes you so far. Applying science is where the humanities come to the fold. A biologist doesn’t know the intricacies of policy development, public administration, cultural differences, and so on. Everyone has their more distinct puzzle pieces. There are pieces I lack that a colleague may possess. Collaboration in public health policy between social scientists, policy experts, biologists, and others will bring us closer to completing the larger puzzle.

This is my compass. Through my company, ACCESS Health International, I use my knowledge to promote a brighter public health future. I write about topics that demand spotlight, conduct interviews to demonstrate my positions, and publish works that lay a blueprint for this more promising future. While the power to change policy is ultimately out of my hands, I will continue to use every bit of my knowledge to affect positive change. I will do everything in my power to complete my puzzle.

This blog is one in a series showcasing writing samples from my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.