Of knowledge and illusions…

Knowledge is an illusion.

No, this isn’t some catchline – it really is an illusion.

We all think of ourselves as rational beings, able to view situations and make informed judgements, but studies have shown that we always thought in groups.

From the time we hunted, till the time we went to the Moon, and beyond.

In fact, this is getting worse.

Our Stone Age ancestors knew everything – from building shelters, to making clothes, food and most importantly, escaping lions.

Our closer ancestors knew farming, rearing their own livestock and most tasks around the house.

Today’s generation lives in apartments, with Urbanclap taking care of everything from plumbing to fixing photos on walls. Our food comes from Zomato, we throw out clothes that develop a slight tear and most of us do not have a clue of what lies under the bonnet of the car that we drive.

Well, we have outgrown the need to sew our own clothes, you may say.

Yes, and no. The point is that we know a whole lot lesser than we think we do, and we depend on others a whole lot more than we think we do.

The rapid pace of technology has worsened it. We ‘know’ about how things work from You Tube, not from technical journals. Our news comes from the net and Facebook, not from the grapevine of friends and family. Humans have never been so susceptible to manipulation as now. Our lives are one big and constant data stream, and the people who can view this data, sometimes may know us better than we do.

The last statement is frightening, but true.

Reseach showed that by analyzing just 10 likes on Facebook, the computer could more accurately predict a subject’s personality than a work colleague. 

With 70 likes, it could know more about someone than their friends, and with 150 it would be more knowledgeable than a family member. With 300 likes it could determine your personality better than a spouse, although an average Facebook user has about 227 likes, the researchers pointed out.

So, in summary, we know lesser than we used to, and others know more about us than we think we do. We think in groups, and our so-called knowledge is actually an intranet of sorts, and decisions stem from a collective, rather than an individual.

I wonder where we will land, at this current pace. Maybe finding true selves will prove harder now, with all the subconscious feedback that we take in from all the sensory inputs that we are overexposed to.

All the degrees in the world, and we are more ignorant than ever before. Makes one wonder, doesn’t it?