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Smolek has created a glossary of terms and abbreviations that may appear in the company's communication. Although everyone who writes for Smoltek does their best to explain in layman's words, technical terms inevitably creep into the text and make it difficult to read. This is due to a cognitive bias known as the Curse of Knowledge. This is the subject of this column, published on the spookiest day of them all – Halloween.
Greetings, dear readers!
At Smoltek, we have more PhDs per square meter than most places have coffee mugs. And with great knowledge comes a peculiar challenge. It’s called the Curse of Knowledge. And no, it’s not the title of the next big horror flick.
Let’s dial it back to 1990 when a researcher named Elizabeth Newton at Stanford set up a playful experiment. She had people tap out the rhythm of a familiar song on a table (like “Happy Birthday”), and other people guessed the tune.
Now, as the tapper, with the song’s melody playing clearly in their mind, it seemed easy to nail the tune, right? They assumed the guessers would nail it about 50 percent of the time.
A mere 2.5 percent guessed correctly. Talk about lost in translation!
This experiment was a fun glimpse into the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something intimately, like a catchy tune or, in Smoltek’s case, techy terms, it’s tricky to remember what it’s like not to know it. Our thoughts waltz seamlessly with advanced terms and abbreviations, leaving others to wonder if we’re speaking in some spooky lingo.
So, yes, this curse haunts the talented corridors of Smoltek. As we pen down our insights, sometimes a rogue technical term or elusive abbreviation slips in, like an unexpected guest at a party.
But worry not, dear reader! We’ve whipped up a potion to dispel this ghostly jargon. For every term that might leave you feeling you’re reading a spellbook, we have crafted an explanation. You can find them all in our glossary. Think of it as our way of keeping the communication spirits friendly.
The Curse of Knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual with a deep understanding of a subject unwittingly assumes that others possess a similar level of knowledge. This can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings. Coined by economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber, the term was first introduced in the Journal of Political Economy in 1989.
Elizabeth Newton’s 1990 experiment is a classic illustration of this bias. Her study revealed how a person’s knowledge significantly influences their expectations of others’ understanding, often leading to overestimating what is commonly known. To counteract this bias, it’s crucial to actively simplify explanations, avoid jargon, and seek feedback to ensure your message is understandable to a broader audience.