Epistemic wellbeing

We normally think of wellbeing as physical and mental health. But another way to think about our wellbeing is in terms of knowledge - known as our epistemic wellbeing.

Knowledge affects our ability to navigate the world and accomplish our goals. Epistemic wellbeing is the sense that you'll be able to know what you want and need to know for your life to proceed well. If you have access to good sources of information and understand how to get your questions answered, you have a high degree of epistemic wellbeing.

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  • Access to truths. It is the basis of epistemic wellbeing.
  • Access to trustworthy sources of information. The internet gives access to much information, but it is only useful if we can separate the truths from the falsehoods.
  • Opportunities to participate in productive dialogue. It is not enough to just passively receive information. The things we want to know about are often complex, and understanding requires more than just a one-off answer. Discussions also lead to new questions and interests.

The amount of false and misleading information we're exposed to by traditional and social media could make us feel like we don't have good access to truths. The rise of conspiratorial thinking - where people are willing to believe wild theories, is another aspect that contributes to our decreased sense of epistemic wellbeing.

In trying to address the epistemic crisis, many feel unable to engage in dialogue and find alternative opportunities to do so, resulting in more extreme views.

  • We're told to double-check the information online and to look for indications that our sources are trustworthy,
  • It's perhaps worthwhile to develop a habit of auditing one's epistemic habits. Consider how you acquire information: Is it likely to lead you to the truth, or is it telling you things you want to hear?

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