Illusion of explanatory depth - Deepstash

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Known Unknowns vs Unknown Unknowns: Two Sides of Ignorance

Illusion of explanatory depth

We think understand complex phenomena with far greater precision and depth than we rally do. We are are subject to an illusion.

Believing we know more than we actually do can lead us to prejudice without us even knowing.

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Antilibrary: the power of unread books
Antilibrary: the power of unread books

An antilibrary is a private collection of mostly unread books. It is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool.

It should contain a collection of resources aro...

The antilibrary makes us aware of unknown unknowns

The vastness of the unknown can feel overwhelming, which is why people feel uncomfortable with accumulating books they haven't read. But embracing the unknown is what drives discovery.

The antilibrary is then a reminder of everything we don't know. Being surrounded by books we haven't read yet reminds us how limited our knowledge is - it is a humbling experience.

How to maintain an antilibrary
  • Make notes of all relevant references. When an author mentions another book, make a note of the exact reference, then research it. In the process, you will discover books that genuinely piques your curiosity that can be added to your antilibrary.
  • Ask fellow readers for recommendations.
  • Allow for chance discoveries. Ensure you leave space for interesting books that you randomly bought because the title or cover grabbed your attention.
  • Do not expect the proportion of unread books to decrease. The more you read, the more unread books will be added to your antilibrary.
  • Improve your relationship with knowledge. Your antilibrary may feel a bit anxiety-inducing. Remember that knowledge is a process, not a possession. An antilibrary is an investment in yourself.
An Uncertain World
An Uncertain World

The ongoing epidemic, due to its unknown nature, has provided us with a lot of uncertainties related to the characteristics, severity, mortality rate, infectious rate and spread of the disease. The...

Kinds of Uncertainty
  • Epistemic Uncertainty: Uncertain information and data about the past or present, which can be unraveled by using measuring tools.
  • Aleatory Uncertainty: The unknown things about the future related to randomness, luck, chance or indeterminacy.
  • Deep Uncertainty: Also called radical uncertainty, it is a state in which there are so many unknown things that the future looks like an abyss.
Statistics Vs The Truth

In statistical science, risk is an important uncertainty, but a comparing of risks sometimes does not take into account certain human factors, leading to misinformation or even disinformation. This is due to the statistical models being oversimplifications of the real world.

Statistical data is a ‘Map’, not the actual territory.

Science providing anwers
Science providing anwers

Despite the advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still limited. Scientists still don't know what the vast majority of the universe is made up of or how cons...

Mysterian arguments

"Mysterian" thinkers give an important role to biological arguments and analogies.

Late philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that there are bound to be thoughts we are unable to think. Similarly, philosopher Colin McGinn claimed that all minds suffer from "cognitive closure" about particular problems. Just as animals will never understand prime numbers, so human brains are unable to consider some of the world's wonders.

Mysterians and pessimism

Mysterians present the question of cognitive limits in fixed terms: either we can solve a problem, or we will never be able to.

A possibility that eludes mysterians is one of slowly diminishing returns. We keep slowing down, even as we exert more effort, and there is no point where progress becomes impossible.