The Curse of Knowledge

Knowledge is essential for human growth. In fifteenth-century Sir Francis Bacon said 

                                                     “Knowledge is Power”

We all know and strongly believe this. But what if you have plenty of knowledge but unable to communicate or share your knowledge with the world. Does that knowledge of yours will serve its purpose? Knowlege is never stagnant, it meant to spread.

If you look at your surroundings, you will find many people who are good at acquiring knowledge but not in sharing. You might have seen a lot of good or even excellent students in your school or college, who can learn very quickly. But that same learning if you ask those students to teach you, chances are there very few would be able to teach.     Why is it so? Why being a good explainer is so difficult?

OK. Let’s answer a question honestly. What you think is the most important skill one can acquire to be successful in any field, at any age?

Yeah, Of-course hard work, Perseverance, Patience are there but if I have to answer this question, my vote would go for communication skill. To me, most people in this world are some kind of salesman (I know it might sound awkward), think about it for some time. Everyone is trying to sell something, trying to persuade something, trying to impress. Have you seen any good salesman who doesn’t have good communication skill? If you don’t know how to talk, how to impress, how will you sell?

There is a beatiful quote about teaching-aaf92b794cdeac2765973464e2175975

But the key question is why is teaching so hard? Ok, let me tell you an interesting experiment done by a psychology student named Elizabeth Newton from Stanford University in the year 1990.

Newton called few people and divided them into two groups. One group consist of tappers, whose job was to choose a song from a list of 25 common tunes like Happy Birthday to you, twinkle twinkle little star etc. and then tapped out the song’s rhythm with their knuckles. Another group was of Listeners who had to guess the song tapped by other group.  After every song been tapped by tappers, Newton asked the group of tappers about what they think is the possibility of Listeners group guessed the correct song. They said 50%, which means they thought half of the song tapped by them were correctly guessed by listener’s group. But in reality, the listener’s group guessed only           2.5% songs correctly.       

See what happened was, tappers group knew the song they played. It’s on their mind. So it became difficult for them to think how this could not be guessed by another group. This phenomenon is called ‘Curse of Knowledge’ first coined in the Journal of Political Economy by economists Colin CamererGeorge Loewenstein, and Martin Weber. But Why knowledge has termed a curse here?  To put it simply

‘When information or knowledge related to some topic is accessible to you or you know about something, we have an erroneous impression that other person we are talking or teaching also knows about it.’

Now it may sound silly to you but it happens every time subconsciously. More importantly, it’s consequences are very serious. Chip and Dan Heath two American academicians wrote beautifully in their book-                                                                      “Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it.”

You can see the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ everywhere.

Lecture on a topic is important and logical to the teacher but no to the students.               

Studying books is important in the teenage years according to parents not according to teenagers.

ways to properly use a device is important to its engineer but not to customers.

 

Even one-dimensional communication like text messaging is dangerous sometimes. You as the sender know what you mean by the words you have written but the other person who cannot see your face or know your intentions might interpret it another way.

This all leads to misunderstanding. So then how to overcome this ‘ Curse of Knowledge’?

First and foremost, we should be aware of this. If we know something doesn’t mean another person also knows that. When explaining to others, make sure to tell them first the background. When learning something new, learn from very basic, don’t assume too much. If you cannot communicate, all your acquired knowledge is of no value to the world.anthony-robbins-quote-to-effectively-communicate-we-must-realize-that

And as they have said Knowledge is really a great power. Don’t make it a curse.

 

-Have a great week. Until next week.                                                                                                                                                               -Joy

 

 

Source:

  1. 5 ways to overcome the Curse of knowledge

2. The Curse of Knowledge

3. Image from unsplash

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