RSA Talk: ‘Why We Never Think Alone’

Dr. Mark Gatenby and second year undergraduate Ivan Ivanov, attended an RSA Talk on Steven Sloman's Knowledge Illusion.
Dr. Mark Gatenby and second year undergraduate Ivan Ivanov attended an RSA Talk, where Steven Sloman spoke about his ‘Knowledge Illusion’.

Coming from Southampton to London to hear this talk felt exciting. What I love about RSA talks is that they’re somewhat inspiring and make me pay more attention to topics I don’t consider usually.

Coming from Brown University, Professor Steven Sloman a famous academic, researcher and writer, was quite enthusiastic to deliver a talk on a topic he’s been passionate about for years on the ‘Knowledge Illusion’.

Put in other words, people tend to think they know facts they’re uncertain of and they keep an image of processes, which are false. However, as he explained, “It’s not our fault. Things are actually quite complicated”.

What is knowledge? A simple answer to this question might be – the belief of people towards theories. We believe in so many facts and theories given to us by teachers, researchers or academics, without actually questioning its validity.

Another point Sloman made was that people can’t deal with detail. No one wants to know everything about how their surroundings work. Instead, it is more convenient to believe in and adopt morals, sacred values and theories.

An important thought shared was that Ignorance is a bliss, the lesser you know, the better off you’ll be. However illusions are not good. The word illusions here is used to represent all the false beliefs we carry and share with others, reassuring ourselves of our knowledge in certain topics.

What is significantly important nowadays is to know what you don’t know. To make it more clearly, it is very hard to find the right information from people around us. It is a process everyone should work on.

Professor Steven Sloman concluded his talk with a very interesting thought defending Wikipedia and defining it as ‘invaluable’ – words I thought I would never hear coming from an academic.

I left the talk carrying some interesting thoughts and am grateful to have met such an influential person. I will definitely have a look at his book to learn more on this interesting topic.

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