Most of our knowledge is a delusion. We know far less than we think we do! David Gurteen


As individuals, we know far less than we think we do.

Our education system teaches us to accept and memorize so-called facts based on our teachers’ authority. We trust our teachers not to lie to us knowingly.

We are not encouraged to question these facts, or at least not too deeply. It is hardly surprising then that we think we understand things when all we have done is blindly accept and memorize them.

The problem is not people being uneducated.

The problem is that people are educated just enough to believe what they have been taught, and not educated enough to question anything from what they have been taught.

Credit: Richard Feynman

Accepting (knowing) something to be a fact is not the same as understanding it.

Most of us believe the earth circles the sun, contrary to what our senses tell us, but we could not explain how we know that other than we were taught it in school.

This acceptance of facts from a source we trust comes to haunt us in our adult lives when we think we understand things that we don’t.

We accept far too much of what we read in the media, especially social media, without question. We blindly trust the source, particularly if it’s from a member of a tribe to which we belong.

We then get into arguments over issues which we know precious little about – one ignorant person arguing with another.

Some cognitive scientists consider our knowledge to be an illusion, but if we reflect on it for one moment, it is obvious we don’t know.

An illusion is sensing that something exists but misinterpreting it, for instance, a mirage in a desert.

On the other hand, a delusion is a belief that we hold despite contradictory information or evidence, for instance, believing we are immortal.

Most of what we consider to be our personal knowledge is more than an illusion. It is a delusion. Knowledge is communal.