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The Knowledge Illusion Audiobook

The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone

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Publisher's Summary

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 individually 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 world around us.

©2017 Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"The Knowledge Illusion is filled with insights on how we should deal with our individual ignorance and collective wisdom." (Steven Pinker)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (125 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Cambridge, Ohio United States 04-21-17
    Amazon Customer Cambridge, Ohio United States 04-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    "great insight into our delusional selves."

    You will contemplate and study more after reading. You may even tie your tongue when you internalize the meaning of this book.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donovan 04-28-17
    Donovan 04-28-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent!"

    One of the best books I've read in years and the simple explanations on the common illusions we live in modern society are quite eye opening..

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Yates 11-01-17
    S. Yates 11-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Welcome insight into what we do and don't know"

    Informative look at humans and how we process information and perceive knowledge. The authors look at how modern times (and the attendant mass quantities of information and the increasingly specialized nature of expertise) and technology (which makes such information nominally available to anyone with Internet access) combine to make present-day humans simultaneously ignorant while believing themselves to be well-informed. The most interesting parts of the book for me where the sections discussing how individuals mistake the ability to find information for current knowledge, but in fact we often do not know how things work or the nuances of complex processes. Other parts of the book discuss topics that have been handled in book length by other authors, so are less new but nicely integrated into the whole. This includes heuristics, how people react to evidence that cuts against their beliefs, the impact of such processes on politics and opinion, and suggestions for how to become more truly knowledgeable. The authors make persuasive and necessary cases for the fact that no one has the time or mental capacity to truly understand nuance in all the areas necessary for daily life, that we have to rely on experts for certain things, and that a key to being informed is to learn how to evaluate experts. Which is a lesson everyone should learn.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 10-16-17
    David 10-16-17 Member Since 2000
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    "great synthesis of ideas"

    this book got me thinking really hard. it was wonderful. I started it thinking that illusion was too big an idea but by the end I was convinced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 09-10-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Nice introduction to the subject, that we ..."

    ... never think alone. What disappointed me the authors did not write much about knowledge encoded in tradition, culture, custom etc.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorenzo Dominguez 08-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "very insightful"

    the human mind is a beautiful and complicated world. the more I learn the more I don't know.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Kirkpatrick 06-15-17
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    "Move Along, Nothing to See Here"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone who does not think objectively for themselves


    What could Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    More analytic content, less soapbox.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Performance was reasonable but slow. Thank goodness for 1.X times speed options


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    A few of the early chapters presented some interesting premises.


    Any additional comments?

    Authors far to readily applied the adjective "discredited" to positions with which they disagree.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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