Transcript for Steve Paulson on Knowledge


Jim Fleming:  You know we've got a bit of a thing for knowledge here at TT Book.  We are to the best of our knowledge after all and for executive producer Steve Paulson that also means having a bit of a thing for books.  Producer Sara Nics pulled Steve into a studio recently to ask him why in this digital information age his office remains a rabbit’s warren of printed pages.


Sara Nics:  So, Steve, for the people who have never seen your office, could you just describe it a little bit?


Steve Paulson:  It's a nightmare.  There are stacks and stacks of book often four feet high or more.  Some of them go maybe three to four stacks deep.


Nics:  What are you doing with all those books in your office?


Paulson:  There are treasures in those books.


Nics:  What do you imagine is in those books for you?  Why do they need to stay at your fingertips?


Paulson:  I'm a big believer in a personal library.  I mean I cannot tell you the thrill that it gives me to have books that matter to me at my fingertips so that I don't have to run off somewhere, I don't have to go to a bookstore or a library, that they're right there that I can find, if I can find them.  I mean I just feel like they're our wonders of the world there and I am loathe to give them up.  I couldn't possibly remember all of the things that are in these books so I want to be able to refer to them. 


Part of the underlying idea of this for the books in my office is I'm thinking maybe we'd use this for a future interview.


Nics:  Right.  A lot of that information eventually ends up online anyhow so really all you would need in theory is a tablet of some kind.  What is it about the book for you?


Paulson:  I read a printed book totally differently than I read a screen.  When I'm reading something on a screen I skim.  I can't read it closely and I'm consuming information.


Nics:  I wonder what you think the difference is between information and knowledge.


Paulson:  Oh, I think there's a huge difference.  I think this is a big question.  For me personally and also for the way I've thought about what I do on To the Best of our Knowledge, if you think about modern information theory, what has brought the digital revolution that we have today.  It really came about when early information theorists, those early computer people, stripped meaning out of information.  They turned information into ones and zeros and that is entirely antithetical to everything that I believe in.  I greatly appreciate this digital world that we have but I resist information that does not have meaning.


In the very early days of this program there was a friend of mine, he was listening, and he said, "You know, Steve, you have a lot of good information on To the Best of Our Knowledge but I don't hear much wisdom."  That really hit home and that's always stayed with me and it's always something that I think about when I'm putting together a To the Best of Our Knowledge is maybe we can bring a little bit more wisdom into the world.


Nics:  Is there some bit of knowledge or some answer to a question that really would be the 12 point buck for you?


Paulson:  There are the huge existential questions that I wonder about.  Where does the experience in our minds come from?  What's the connection between the physical mechanics of the brain and then what happens in our mind - huge question which I am fascinated by. That's one question that I come back to over and over in fact in a lot of interviews.  So those kind of big questions about how the universe works and my place in it.  I guess those I come back to.


Nics:  Do you actually want an answer to those questions because it sounds a little bit like you're in love with the search.


Paulson:  I am in love with the search, yeah.  I'm in love with the search but I would not mind at all finding more answers when they are available.


Fleming:  That's TT Books executive producer Steve Paulson talking with Sara Nics.

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