“Yet like many other human traits that made sense in past ages but cause trouble in the modern age, the knowledge illusion has its downside. The world is becoming ever more complex, and people fail to realise just how ignorant they are of what’s going on. Consequently some who know next to nothing about meteorology or biology nevertheless propose policies regarding climate change and genetically modified crops, while others hold extremely strong views about what should be done in Iraq or Ukraine without being able to locate these countries on a map. People rarely appreciate their ignorance, because they lock themselves inside an echo chamber of like-minded friends and self-confirming news-feeds, where their beliefs are constantly reinforced and seldom challenged.
Providing people with more and better information is unlikely to improve matters. Scientists hope to dispel wrong views by better science education, and pundits hope to sway public opinion on issues such as Obamacare or global warming by presenting the public with accurate facts and expert reports. Such hopes are grounded in a misunderstanding of how humans actually think. Most of our views are shaped by communal groupthink rather than individual rationality, and we hold on to these views out of group loyalty. Bombarding people with facts and exposing their individual ignorance is likely to backfire. Most people don’t like too many facts, and they certainly don’t like to feel stupid. Don’t be so sure that you can convince Tea Party supporters of the truth of global warming by presenting them with sheets of statistical data.”
— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
In the era of pandemic we find ourselves in, it is astounding how people who have limited knowledge about viruses, vaccines and how they mutate are now experts on the topic.
The problem is bo dom-krag, mob psychology, group think, echo-chamber syndrome.
More charts, more facts and figures, more books is not the solution, isolating yourself from the echo-chamber more often is the first step to free thinking.
This is a sobering reminder by Yuval to stick to our lanes, and start “appreciating our ignorance” about things we have very limited knowledge about.
If you want to know about something, read books by experts, read books that not only confirms your thinking, but also that challenges it, listen to podcasts, apply your mind to issues.