In this talk, Fernbach will explore the nature of knowledge, and how much of what we know or think we know is an illusion. Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? The answer is that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Fernbach will discuss how the fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge allows us to assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individually oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. Our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things; true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the world around us.
Philip Fernbach is an assistant professor of marketing at the Leeds School of Business and an associate member of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has published widely in the top journals in cognitive science, consumer research and marketing, and was chosen a Marketing Sciences Institute Young Scholar in 2017. He is the co-author of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone (Riverhead Books, 2017) which was chosen as a New York Times Editors’ Pick. He has also written for The New York Times and Harvard Business Review, and his research has been featured in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and the BBC. He received his doctorate in cognitive science from Brown University, and his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Williams College. He teaches data analytics to undergraduates and master’s students. To find out more, visit Fernbach's website.