‘Head in the Cloud — — Why Knowing Things still Matters when Facts are so Easy to Look Up’ (I)

‘Head in the Cloud — — When Knowing Things still Matters when Facts are so Easy to Look Up’ by William Poundstone

Part I: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

1. Those most lacking in knowledge and skills are least able to appreciate the lack. This observation become known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

2. It is easy to gorge on news of favourite celebrities, TV shows, teams, political ideologies, and tech toys. This leaves less time and attention for everything else.

3. One problem with the premise that people don’t need to know facts because they can always look them up is that we don’t look them up. Most people will never Google facts such as the location of Ukraine, the percentage of Muslims in America, or the size of the federal budget. We walk around with misperceptions that shape attitudes, votes and policy.

4. A disproportionate share of the memories that we have of our own lives are from adolescence and early adulthood, between the ages of ten and thirty or so, a tendency termed a reminiscence bump. These memories include the joys and pains of puberty, high school and college, first love, first job, and first apartment. In contrast we remember nothing of infancy and little of early childhood.

Part II: The Knowledge Premium

1. Correlation does not prove causation. It is the flip side of that rule: lack of correlation does not disprove causation.

2. Less than 7% of the public have celiac disease or an authentic gluten sensitivity that would justify eliminating gluten from their diets.

3. Gluten-free products often substitute rice flour for wheat flour, leading to increased exposure to arsenic, which is not only a slow poison but also a carcinogen. Some research links gluten-free diets to weight gain and obesity.

4. The most knowledgeable were most likely to be married. Living with another person and raising children are educations in themselves. Thus marriage may promote knowledge while being single may limit it.

5. The breadth of knowledge, as opposed to depth, is the best predictor of income.

6. There is an income penalty for not knowing widely known facts.

7. We all confront problems in our lives and careers. In ways big and small, ‘irrelevant’ knowledge can be a source of analogies, inspirations, and solutions.

The beach at Walberswick by Philip Wilson Steer
Source: https://www.artrenewal.org/artworks/the-beach-at-walberswick/philip-wilson-steer/59312
Spielende Kinder by Lothar Zitzmann
Source: https://www.bildatlas-ddr-kunst.de/knowledge/383

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