Friday, June 26, 2009

Max and the Chauffeur

The following story was told by Charlie in a 2003 speech at the University of California.

By the way there's a famous story about Max Planck which is apocryphal: After he won his prize, he was invited to lecture everywhere, and he had this chauffeur that drove him around to give public lectures all through Germany. And the chauffeur memorized the lecture, and so one day he said, "Gee Professor Planck, why don't you let me try it as we switch places?" And so he got up and gave the lecture. At the end of it some physicist stood up and posed a question of extreme difficulty. But the chauffeur was up to it. "Well," he said, "I'm surprised that a citizen of an advanced city like Munich is asking so elementary a question, so I'm going to ask my chauffeur to respond." - Charlie Munger


In a separate speech in 2007, he added these comments to the above story.

In this world we have two kinds of knowledge. One is Planck knowledge, the people who really know. And then we've got chauffeur knowledge. They have learned the talk. They may have a big head of hair, they may have fine temper in the voice, they'll make a hell of an impression. But in the end, all they have is chauffeur knowledge. I think I've just described practically every politician in the US.
- Charlie Munger

Check out both speeches.

Adam

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