“Fake” Knowledge: Knowing and the Illusion of Knowing
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at 2:30pm
A nomenclator was a slave whose duty was to accompanying his master in canvassing the streets of Classical Rome in order to recall the names of those his master encountered. Each of us is, in a way, both that ancient politician and that slave, relying on others’ memories to supply us with knowledge, and others relying on us for the knowledge we recall for them. Hence, knowledge has always been, in part, a distributive entity, requiring a delegation of mental tasks, an implicit commitment to a social contract.
Histories have documented the occurrence of mass delusions—which also leads us to question our collective intuition. Close to the origins of humankind is a fascination with the unknown and the unverifiable, with the early cultivation of spiritual life and religion proving as a testament to this. What is apocryphal and what should believe in? Even to the present day, as technology and science become evermore complicated, we are asked to distinguish between proven fact and educated speculation.
In the age of a seemingly omniscient internet, an impersonal cloud-mind (with which—despite attempts to humanize Siri and “her” ilk—no one can yet lay claim outside of fiction to a convincing reciprocal emotional relationship), when the object of our confided ignorance is no longer a person but a thing, when our subjective sense of self is no longer limned by the encounter with another, what happens to our ability to distinguish internal from external knowledge? Are we led to an illusory sense of our own knowledge?
Is the immediate, distributive information of the internet changing the way our brains work, possibly holding the promise of transcending the limitations of individual knowledge? If so, does the virtue of its collective knowledge lead us further to question the very value of our individuality? Or are we heedlessly (or ineluctably) heading toward a human-machine collective heretofore only within the purview of science fiction?
There is great excitement in the scientific community about the prospect of forming a transitive partnership with a seemingly unlimited source of knowledge. Where, however, is the place of wisdom? Does more information, more knowledge, inevitably lead to superior opinions, decision-making, and moral understanding? Is collective knowledge always less susceptible to the pretense of knowledge that individual thinking is? The history of human advancement would suggest otherwise, replete as it is with counterexamples to the superiority of collective knowledge over individual reasoning
Silver Professor of Philosophy, NYU
Paul Artin Boghossian is Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University and director of its New York Institute of Philosophy. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has published many papers in the philosophy of mind and epistemology, on such topics as color, rule-following, eliminativism, naturalism, self-knowledge, a priori knowledge, analytic… read more »
Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Daniel Kahneman is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton., He is best known for his joint research with Amos Tversky on human judgment and decision making. Tversky did in 1996. Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. He is the author… read more »
University Professor, Columbia University
Eric R. Kandel, M.D., is University Professor at Columbia; Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science; Co-Director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute; and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A graduate of Harvard College and N.Y.U. School of Medicine, Kandel trained in Neurobiology at the NIH and in Psychiatry… read more »
Mark Mitton is a magician who is fascinated by using magic to better understand how we see the world. He performs magic and produces unique entertainment around the world, and explores the limits and potential of perception. Mark’s specialty is physical misdirection, or what some call “embodied cognition”. He regularly presents on ‘Perception & Deception’… read more »
Associate Professor of Psychology, Columbia University
Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Brown University
Steven Sloman is a Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University where he has worked since 1992. He did his PhD in Psychology at Stanford University from 1986-1990 and then did post-doctoral research for two years at the University of Michigan. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cognition. Steven is a… read more »
One comment on ““Fake” Knowledge: Knowing and the Illusion of Knowing”
Brett F Whysel says: September 21, 2017 at 11:31 am
I just heard Prof. Sloman speak at BSPA in the Knowledge Illusion…profoundly thought provoking. I’m really looking forward to this.
My summary of the day will appear soon at http://www.decisionfish.com