Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Curse of Knowledge

I'm reading a somewhat nerdy book at the moment called, "Made to Stick: why some ideas survive and others die" by Chip and Dan Heath.

There is one specific piece I would like to quote:

"Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has 'cursed' us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind."

The text goes on to say that this plays out every day "...between teachers and students, politicians and voters, marketers and customers, writers and readers. All of these groups rely on ongoing communication, but . . . they suffer from enormous information imbalances."

I don't know about you, but I have never though of this before, that having great hoards of stored information can be a bad thing when trying to communicate with other people.

Well, okay, I have thought about it, but in tiny bits and pieces, in different situations, and have never connected it as one coherent thought.

The relevant example of where I have thought about this, is of course, writing. Specifically in my writing group.

I'm a sparse writer. Feedback from my group members usually consists of them asking for more information, primarily world-building or backstory (I love visceral description too much to fall prey to the *white room syndrome*). Realizing that facts exist in my head that haven't made it onto the page... this is something I am keenly aware of and have thought about and try to plan for in advance before handing off material to my group.

I would classify it under one of the known *problems* in my writing that I am working to correct.

So, in this book by the Heath brothers, what is their solution?

"Reversing the process is as impossible as un-ringing a bell. You can't unlearn what you already know. There are, in fact, only two ways to beat the Curse of Knowledge reliably. The first is not to learn anything. The second is to take your ideas and transform them."

...and the book promises to teach the method of transformation.

Should I be skeptical?


But I'm still going to read it.

Honestly, half the reason I'm eager to continue is the hilarious notion of beating the 'Curse of Knowledge' with more knowledge...

...and no, I don't think they intended on that being funny...

...and yes, I do have a strange sense of humor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)