Your audiobook is waiting…

The Knowledge Illusion

Why We Never Think Alone
Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (237 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

" 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    121
  • 4 Stars
    74
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    5

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    119
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    112
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    5
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

some golden nuggets and a lot of fluff

book was ok and has some enlightening points, but it also has a lot of unnecessary information. It also takes some controversial topics and kind takes a side then calls you ignorant because the "facts" say so. e.g big bang, global warming etc

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sobering insights

Really enjoyed this book. The only caveat is, don't take this as gospel, there are several questionable assertions made...But hey, that's what this is all about.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Challenging and thoughtful

While a bit dry and academic, the ideas presented are interesting and eye opening. The concepts presented challenged me to consider what I REALLY know, giving me pause now before I espouse to be knowledgeable about any given topic.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Feels a little biased

Some interesting concepts like how knowledge is everywhere and we offload the knowledge onto everyday objects. Also we assume people have the same knowledge as us.

Seems a little anti-religion and anti jack of all trades mentality. This can be summarized by focusing on a specific trade and knowing your limitations.

The person reading the information is amazing as usual.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I recommend this book

The authors provide great insight into why we trust or own knowledge too much. They have some practical recommendations on how we can ride above our illusions.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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 6 people found this review helpful