‘THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION

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‘THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION’

A term referred to by Yuval Noah Harari in his book 21 Lessons of the 21st Century, was coined by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernback. He explains this concept in a lucid & contextual fashion. “We think we know a lot, even though individually we know very little, because we treat knowledge in the minds of others as if it were our own.’ This has continued for long. Homo sapiens gained prominence & control over the planet not because of individual rationality but because of “our unparalleled ability to think together in large groups,” says Harari.

As we move further in this complex exponential world the downside of this complex will show up even more conspicuously, becoming a major deterrent even in our day to day functioning. People fail to realise their level of ignorance. It is a common knowledge that people who literally know nothing – academically & technically, are the ones who propose and even clear policies on climate change and genetically modified crops. There are lots of people in the world today who have strong views on Iraq or Ukraine, but they might not be even be able to locate these countries on the map. The right to freedom of speech has become tantamount to ignorant and ill informed having the courage to have an opinion on complex issues & more so push it through the democratic process.

The general feeling that more information to the electorate / citizens / people will lead to better decision making has not happened. Group thinking has taken precedence over individual rationality. Even the diehard liberal idea of individual rationality can be attributed to liberal groupthink. This is fully reflected in the democratic slogan shouting crowds; “Yes, the voter knows best! Yes, the customer is always right.”

This frame of mind is not limited to mere mortals, it afflicts presidents & CEOs as well. Advisors and intelligence agencies are not able to fill knowledge vacuum. Political & business heads don’t have the time, they are on the run. The luxury of knowledge that delivers comes through “wasting time”, “experiment with unproductive paths,”” to explore dead ends,”&“to allow little seeds of insight to slowly grow & blossom.” Who has the time, energy and that inclination.

IGNORANCE CAN ONLY BE SUICIDAL IN A COMPLEX KNOWLEDGE DRIVEN WORLD.

Sanjay Sahay

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