I’ve used the phrase a few times myself, that whatever you know and no matter how much you know, you could still not make a pencil on your own. Well I came across the essay from whence the example originated, although I haven’t read it in about 6 years, it still as astonishing and as elegant as it was when I read it the first time. What it describes is no less beautiful or elegant.
At least if economics gives you a Chris Mathews thrill up your leg.
I recommend everyone read the essay, regardless. It will really make your head spin. Without further adieu: http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.htm