¿Será la ignorancia una bendición?

Hace mucho que desapareció la era del hombre del Renacimiento. Nadie considera que sea ya posible que una persona aprehenda totalmente todos los sectores de la ciencia y la tecnología. Los programas informáticos populares contienen millones de líneas de códigos. Los mecanismos de la reacción inmune a un solo tipo de linfocito ocupan miles de páginas de revistas académicas. El sencillo y elegante aspecto de un iPod encubre una tecnología subyacente que sólo entienden un porcentaje diminuto de sus usuarios.

Pero, pese a lo enormemente incompletos que son nuestros conocimientos, investigaciones recientes indican que la mayoría de las personas creen que saben mucho más de lo que en realidad saben. Reconocemos de buen grado que no lo sabemos todo sobre cómo vuela un helicóptero o cómo imprime una imprenta, pero no somos nada modestos sobre nuestra ignorancia.

La forma más fácil de mostrarlo es hacer que las personas puntúen la exactitud de sus conocimientos en una escala de siete puntos. Respecto de determinada cuestión, un "7" denota el equivalente a una configuración mental perfectamente detallada y un "1" representa la ignorancia casi total de un mecanismo determinado, tan sólo una vaga idea. Las personas, alegre y confiadamente, asignan números a su comprensión de toda clase de cosas, desde máquinas complejas a fenómenos naturales, como las mareas, pasando por sistemas biológicos, pero esas calificaciones suelen ser muy superiores a las que les corresponden por sus conocimientos reales.

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