Yogesh Dhimate

Notes to Myself

Dec 24, 2020 - 2 minute read - Books

Made to Stick and the Curse of Knowledge

I recently read “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It was a fun and quick read. While I liked their framework of SUCCESs (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories) to get the idea to stick, I thoroughly enjoyed the explanation of the Curse of Knowledge. The curse of knowledge occurs when a knowledgeable individual/expert assumes that the others have the background to understand a specific concept.

According to Chip and Dan, In general, getting your message across has two stages - the Answer Stage, and the Telling Others Stage. In the Answer Stage, you use your expertise to arrive at the idea that you want to share. This involves studying the material and becoming capable of answering. However, the same factors that worked to your advantage in the Answer Stage will backfire on you during the Telling Others stage. To get the answer, you need expertise, but you can’t dissociate expertise from the Curse of Knowledge. You know things that others don’t know, and you can’t remember what it was like not to know those things. So when you start sharing the answer, you’ll tend to communicate as if your audience were you.

This reminds me of another news I read a long time ago about an audio illusion. Once our brains know what to expect to hear, they do, even if, in reality, it is impossible.