The Knowledge Illusion

The Knowledge Illusion

Why We Never Think Alone

Book - 2017
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"The Knowledge Illusion is filled with insights on how we should deal with our individual ignorance and collective wisdom." --Steven Pinker

We all think we know more than we actually do.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don't even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We're constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact--and usually we don't even realize we're doing it.

The human mind is both brilliant and pathetic. We have mastered fire, created democratic institutions, stood on the moon, and sequenced our genome. And yet each of us is error prone, sometimes irrational, and often ignorant. The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individual-oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. The Knowledge Illusion contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the community around us.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2017.
ISBN: 9780399184352
Characteristics: 296 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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May 14, 2018

A very interesting read. The basic idea is that as individuals we think we know more than we actually do. Instead our knowledge is more community based, that is, what we consider to be our own knowledge can be attributed to the knowledge stored in our environment, culture, and importantly other groups. Well written and easy reading this book is well worth the time investment.

May 09, 2017

An obvious subject, but with the current mass delusion of individualism, one well worth the apparent belaboring.
We are the worlds most social of species, yet commonly regard thinking as an individual between ones ears activity. Hah! This leads to many delusions, that are thoroughly explored.
It hardly touches on the why of the matter [besides of the obvious social nature of our species that is].
For instance, demonstrably, as thinkers like Buckminster Fuller point out, we began as generalists, right-lobers, but only gradually shifted to the left lobe. Why? We got too big for our right-lobe britches- knowledge just got too big for any individual mind to encompass, so we were forced into specializing. After which, well, like kids watching tv and naturally concluding that since they often see adult activities, that they know all about them, we see the products of knowledge and assume that we understand the knowledge itself. Leonard Shalin's theory [The Goddess and the Alphabet]. was that we went left lobe because of linear/alphabet-based language, but this forced into specialism by over-success argument may be at least equally true.
A probable proof that it's useful and accurate- one finds oneself reading and thinking, yeah yeah, i knew that. Which illustrates their point! You don't know it, well enough anyway. Read the book already.


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