A starving man ate twenty oranges, and the calories kept him alive. A man with scurvy ate twenty oranges, and the vitamin C kept him alive. A man ate 30 oranges in one sitting, and felt sick afterwards. A man ate ten oranges a day for five years, and they led to nutritional imbalances. A man with an orange allergy ate one orange, and felt sick afterwards. A man ate an average of one orange a day for one year, and they were part of his healthy, balanced diet.

Oranges can save your life, they can be part of a balanced diet, they can lead to a dietary imbalance, or they can make you sick. If you pass an absolute judgement on oranges, you don’t know what oranges really are. In order to learn what oranges really are, you have to have the proper mindset. Otherwise, even if you study oranges for a thousand hours, you won’t know what they are.

Suppose you eat 20 oranges, they save your life, and from that point on you eat nothing but oranges. The very food that saved your life will cause a wide variety of major, serious nutritional imbalances.

Suppose all of the vitamin C in your diet come from oranges–and then one day, you eat too many orange, you feel sicks, and you resolve to never eat oranges again. At some point, you’ll develop a vitamin C decifiency and die, unless you find an alternate source of vitamin C.

Suppose someone eats mostly oranges for a week, and the diet benefits him. He might then stick with that diet, even though he shouldn’t. Suppose his body initially had too much X, and not enough Y. One week of the orange diet corrected the imbalance. But if he sticks with the diet for ten more weeks, he’ll end up with the opposite imbalance: not enough X, and too much Y. The diet that brought his body into the optimal range ended up taking him out of that optimal range. The orange diet was good, but it after a week, it became bad.

A spice tastes good when its added to certain foods, and in certain amounts. When that same spice is added to the wrong food, or it’s added to the right food but in the wrong amount, the spice actually tastes bad.

Cooks have the right mindset when it comes to spices.

Now, imagine someone eating rice after adding a little salt to it, and thinking, “Salt is good. I should put it on everything.” Then the next day, he eats a banana after adding salt to it, and thinks, “Salt is bad. I should never eat it.” Then another time, his rice tastes bland, and he rethinks his position on salt. “Maybe salt is good. I should add some to this and try it.” And he eats the rice and thinks, “Salt is good. I should put it on everything.” Then he puts salt on his potato, and thinks, “I was right. Salt is good.” And then the next day, he puts salt on strawberries, and way too much salt on rice and potatoes. And he thinks, “Salt is actually bad. I should avoid it.” His mindset is preventing him from seeing how salt isn’t good or bad in absolute terms–but rather, it’s good or bad depending on how much is used and what food it’s added to. No matter how much experimenting he does with salt, he’ll never learn to use it correctly until he changes his mindset. He’s not experimenting with salt per se–he’s experimenting with narrow minded salt extremism. Experimenting with narrow minded salt extremism is not the same as experimenting with salt.

If we don’t have the proper mindset when we explore a topic, then we might not learn much, even if we gather lots of information, and spend a great deal of time thinking it through. Information and thought seldom leads to true knowledge, unless the information and thought are accompanied by the proper mindset.