The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman
Why We Never Think Alone

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Human ignorance is more fundamental and more consequential than the illusion of understanding. But still, the book profits from its timing. In the context of partisan bubbles and fake news, the authors bring a necessary shot of humility...
-The Economist

Synopsis

“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 individually oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. This book contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the world around us.
 

About Steven Sloman

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Steven Sloman is a professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Cognition.Philip Fernbach is a cognitive scientist and professor of marketing at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business.
Author Residence: Providence, RI and Boulder, CO
 
Published March 14, 2017 by Riverhead Books. 301 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Knowledge Illusion
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Yuval Harari on Apr 18 2017

As Sloman and Fernbach demonstrate in some of the most interesting and unsettling parts of the book, individual humans know embarrassingly little about the world...

Read Full Review of The Knowledge Illusion: Why W... | See more reviews from NY Times

The Economist

Above average
on Apr 08 2017

Human ignorance is more fundamental and more consequential than the illusion of understanding. But still, the book profits from its timing. In the context of partisan bubbles and fake news, the authors bring a necessary shot of humility...

Read Full Review of The Knowledge Illusion: Why W... | See more reviews from The Economist

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