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. Read more...
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 individual-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 community around us.
- ISBN-13: 9780399184352
- ISBN-10: 039918435X
- Publisher: Riverhead Books
- Publish Date: March 2017
- Page Count: 304
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-11-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Sloman, a professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences, and Fernbach, a cognitive scientist and professor of marketing, attempt nothing less than a takedown of widely held beliefs about intelligence and knowledge, namely the role of an individuals brain as the main center for knowledge. Using a mixture of stories and science from an array of disciplines, the authors present a compelling and entertaining examination of the gap between knowledge one thinks one has and the amount of knowledge actually held in the brain, seeking to explain how human thinking can be so shallow and so powerful at the same time. The book starts with revelatory scholarly insights into the relationship between knowledge and the brain, finding that humans are largely unaware of how little we understand. Sloman and Fernbach then take the reader through numerous real-life applications of their findings, such as the implications for non-experts understanding of science, politics, and personal finances. In an increasingly polarized culture where certainty reigns supreme, a book advocating intellectual humility and recognition of the limits of understanding feels both revolutionary and necessary. The fact that its a fun and engaging page-turner is a bonus benefit for the reader. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher and Co. (Mar.)