Richard Stengel's Commencement Advice


It’s graduation time around the country, and our fellow alum Richard Stengel (SHS Class of ‘73) was recently called in to offer some advice to another group of alums, the Wheaton College class of 2011.



Richard has been a journalist for more than two decades, and he has written for a number of prestigious publications. He collaborated with Nelson Mandela on A Long Walk to Freedom and is now the Managing Editor at Time, so there’s no question he has a lot of knowledge to share with someone who is just getting started.

But instead of attempting to share what he knows, Richard focused on the difference between knowledge and information, and the importance of remaining uncertain. He pointed out that access to information has made people all too certain of their own opinions and that too much certainty is dangerous to democracy and a healthy society.

“Beware of ideas and theories that cannot be tested. Beware of people who know that they’re right,” he told the students.

You can watch his address here (after the short introduction) or read the transcript. And if you need a little context for his opening joke, you can read this explanation of Curry’s slip-up in 2010.