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The 'illusion of knowledge' that makes people overconfident

From BBC ( See link at the bottom for reading more)

It’s easy to think you’re a font of knowledge. And while you may have plenty of skills and expertise, it’s quite likely you know less than you think.


If you consider yourself reasonably intelligent and educated, you might assume that you have a fair grasp on the core ways the world works – knowledge about the familiar inventions and natural phenomena that surround us.

Now, think about the following questions: How are rainbows formed? Why can sunny days be colder than cloudy days? How does a helicopter fly? How does a toilet flush?

Next, ask yourself: could you give a detailed response to any or all these questions? Or do you have only the vaguest gist of what’s happening in each case? 

If you are like many of the participants in psychological studies, you may have initially expected to perform very well. However, when they are asked to offer a nuanced answer to each question, most people are completely stumped – just as you may be, too.

This bias is known as an “illusion of knowledge”. You may think that these specific examples are trivial – they’re the kinds of questions, after all, that an inquisitive child might ask you, where the worst consequence may be a red face in front of your family. But illusions of knowledge can afflict our judgement in many domains. In the workplace, for example, it can lead us to overclaim our knowledge in an interview, overlook the contributions of our colleagues and take on jobs we may be wholly unable to perform.

Many of us go through life completely oblivious to this intellectual arrogance and its consequences. The good news is that some psychologists suggest there may be some disarmingly simple ways to avoid this pervasive thinking trap.

Read full article on BBC

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