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The Knowledge Illusion
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A compelling case from two leading cognitive scientists that people are like bees and society is like a beehive: true intelligence lies not in our individual brains but in the collective mind

About the Author

Steven Sloman is a Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University where he has worked since 1992. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cognition. Phil Fernbach is a cognitive scientist and professor of marketing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has written for and had his work profiled in numerous publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and BBC World News.

Reviews

In The Knowledge Illusion, the cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach hammer another nail into the coffin of the rational individual... positing that not just rationality but the very idea of individual thinking is a myth. * Yuval Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus * Sloman and Fernbach offer clever demonstrations of how much we take for granted, and how little we actually understand... The book is stimulating, and any explanation of our current malaise that attributes it to cognitive failures - rather than putting it down to the moral wickedness of one group or another - is most welcome. Sloman and Fernbach are working to uproot a very important problem. * Financial Times * We all know less than we think we do, including how much we know about how much we know. There's no cure for this condition, but there is a treatment: this fascinating book. The Knowledge Illusion is filled with insights on how we should deal with our individual ignorance and collective wisdom -- Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought Cognitive science attempts to understand the workings of the individual mind. In this brilliant book, Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach show us that what cognitive science has learned is how much the individual mind depends on the minds of others. No matter how smart we are, as individuals we know (almost) nothing. Reading this book will inspire you to cultivate your own expertise, but even more, it will inspire you to seek out and appreciate the expertise of others. This book is a blueprint for an enlightened society. -- Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, Practical Wisdom, and Why We Work We radically overestimate how much we know. In this fascinating book, Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach examine the origin and consequences of this knowledge illusion, exploring both the extent of our ignorance and the clever ways in which we overcome it. This is an exceptionally clear and well-reasoned book, and it has some important and radical things to say about everything from the allure of stories to how iPhones make us smarter to the pros and cons of democracy. This is psychology at its best. -- Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion I love this book. A brilliant, eye-opening treatment of how little each of us knows, and how much all of us know. It's magnificent, and it's also a lot of fun. Read it! -- Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of Nudge and founder and director, Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, Harvard Law School A tour of the many honeycombs of the hive mind ... what matters is what the individual mind contributes to the collectivity ... Interesting insights, especially for team building. * Kirkus * 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" ... 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 it's a fun and engaging page-turner is a bonus benefit for the reader. * Publishers Weekly * Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach are experts on ignorance. Their absorbing book reveals all the ways we delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do. -- Jonah Berger, author of Contagious and Invisible Influence A breezy guide to the mechanisms of human intelligence. * Psychology Today *

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