Epistemic wellbeing

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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RELATED IDEAS

Information storms

We often feel overwhelmed when we are exposed to a large volume of information. We also rely on secondary knowledge that does not come from any external source.

To put it another way: rightly or wrongly, we think what other people think. The digital culture has taken this reliance on social information to a new level, with new sets of hazards, anxieties, manipulation and influence.

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IDEAS

The inner voice

The silent conversations that people have with themselves influence how they live their lives. Some people benefit from internal dialogues, while others fall apart.

When we experience distress, research shows that introspection can do more harm than good. Introspection gives rise to negative cycles with potentially grave consequences for our mental and physical health. The ability to step back and reflect can help to get some perspective.

COVID-19 and Small Talk

In our pandemic world, casual conversation has been all but eliminated. The closest thing we get these days is saying “thank you” to a delivery person or greeting a grocery store clerk. Even then, we're hesitant to linger — every unnecessary moment with a stranger feels taboo, every breath a hazard. And, now, in the absence of chit-chat, we feel isolated and unenergized. This has led to a potentially controversial revelation: small talk gets an unfairly bad rap.

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