Knowledge Is A Matter of Perspective

Tuesday Oct 30th, 2018


Have you ever been frustrated trying to explain a seemingly obvious idea to someone who just doesn’t get it? That’s been described as the “curse of knowledge”.

An experiment asked subjects to tap out the tune of a popular song (like “Happy Birthday”) on a tabletop; others were assigned to listen and identify the song.

The “tappers” predicted that those listening would be able to identify their songs 50 percent of the time, but in fact listeners named the tunes correctly only 2.5 percent of the time.

The tappers could hear the song in their heads, but the listeners were only aware of a series of sounds. It seems that once we know something, we can’t imagine what it’s like to not know it—which may explain a lot of the communication problems that afflict neighbors, political opponents, and even longtime spouses.

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