- Created: Thursday, 11 June 2015 15:44
It’s commencement season and last week I found myself listening to David Foster Wallace’s speech to Kenyon College graduates. He tells a story of two young fish that pass an older fish who is swimming in the opposite direction. The older fish says “Morning boys, how’s the water?” The young fish swim along for a while until one looks at the other and says “What the heck is water?”
The point of the fish story, Wallace explains, is that we are often blind to the most obvious and important realities. Even more, lots of things that we are absolutely, automatically certain about turn out to be completely wrong.
Research suggests Wallace is right. Lots of work in psychology shows that we routinely overestimate how much we know, that we have self-serving biases that distort our thinking, and that we are blind to our own bias (while holding fast to the belief that others are biased).
This sounds like a bunch of...