Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Facts don't change minds - what we think we know is not what we know

Think you know how a toilet works? This article in New Yorker shows that we really know a lot less than we think. This is noteworthy when considering how knowledge is transferred between 'experts'. It is also shows the importance of communities of practice or networks in validating knowledge. "People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people. In the case of my toilet, someone else designed it so that I can operate it easily. This is something humans are very good at. We’ve been relying on one another’s expertise ever since we figured out how to hunt together, which was probably a key development in our evolutionary history. So well do we collaborate, Sloman and Fernbach argue, that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins. One implication of the naturalness with which we divide cognitive labor,” they write, is that there’s “no sharp boundary between one person’s ideas and knowledge” and “those of other members” of the group".

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