无知是福份吗?

文艺复兴时代博学之人的时代早已逝去。没人认为个人完全掌握科技的所有领域是可能的了。流行的软件包含数以百万行的编码。仅仅是一种淋巴细胞免疫反应的机理就占据数以千页的学术刊物的位置。iPod优雅简洁的外观所掩盖的基本技术只有极少一部分使用者可以理解。

但是,尽管我们的知识犹如沧海一粟,最近的研究表明,大多数人认为他们所知道的事情要远远超过实际知道的事情。我们爽快地承认,我们对于直升飞机如何飞翔或者印刷机如何印刷一窍不通,但是对于我们的无知却并不足够谦虚。

表明这一点的最简单的方法是让人们对他们的知识的完整性进行总分为七分的评级。对任何问题而言,7代表了如指掌,1表示对具体的机制几乎毫无感觉,仅仅是一个模糊的图像。人们高兴地而且是可靠地把数字分配到从复杂的机器到生物系统乃至类似潮汐那样的自然现象的理解上来。然而这些评级通常要比人们的实际知识高得很多。

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