The Value of an Open Mind and How To Overcome Knowingness | Jonathan Malesic
When we pretend to know something that we don’t or start a comment with “everyone knows that…”, we create an atmosphere where answers become irrelevant. It closes off our openness to new ideas, ways of thinking and discovering new information. This is the curse of knowingness.
On this episode of Behavioral Grooves, Jonathan Malesic discusses the concept of “knowingness” – the tendency people have to act like they already know something when in fact they don’t. This false sense of knowledge can prevent learning and understanding. Overcoming knowingness requires maintaining a healthy skepticism and openness to new evidence.Knowingness afflicts all corners of our politics. And I think that it's a real problem when it starts afflicting people whose job is to inform us. ~ Jonathan Malesic, Episode 363 Click To Tweet
Jonathan Malesic teaches writing at Southern Methodist University and creative nonfiction at the University of Texas at Dallas. He’s a philosopher and scholar and cares a lot about something we do every week: science communication. And he’s also a previous guest on the show when he discussed how to end burnout on episode 302.
Writing for an audience can help develop empathy and moral imagination by forcing writers to imagine the needs and perspective of their readers. Jonathan argues that learning to write is an ethical training that teaches us to relate to others beyond ourselves. With the emergence of new AI tools like ChatGPT it begs the question of whether writing needs to be taught at all. But Jonathan doesn’t feel threatened by AI. He explains that with a lack of empathy, AI will never be able to effectively write for its audience.
(3:12) Welcome and speed round questions.
(7:02) Our problem isn’t misinformation, it’s knowingness.
(9:16) Is knowingness a type of confirmation bias?
(11:31) How already knowing makes it impossible to learn anything new.
(15:04) The role of the internet and social media on confirmation bias.
(18:43) Cognitive dissonance and the structure of scientific revolutions.
(20:54) How can we overcome knowingness?
(28:55) How do you change someone’s mind?
(30:54) Do we still need to teach writing now that we have ChatGPT?
(39:09) How do we relate to people we imagine?
(43:24) What music would Jon take to a desert island?
(47:18) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim on knowingness.
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