I’m not the first to point out that the rise of smartphones has killed one rather pleasurable form of conversation – the kind that involves confidently chuntering on about subjects you dimly recall, or know nothing about, as if you were really an expert.
Yet the internet isn’t about to end the widespread human tendency to claim to know about topics you don’t – and even sincerely to believe that you know. The easiest way to demonstrate how prevalent this is, as outlined in a forthcoming paper in Psychological Science, is to ask people about “impossible knowledge” – facts they couldn’t possibly know, because researchers made them up. Again and again, in studies at Cornell University, people who fancy themselves knowledgable about science will say they understand what’s meant by “ultra-lipid” or “plates of parallax”, while those who think they’re well-versed in finance will nod along to talk of “pre-rated stocks” or “annualised credit”, even though no such things exist.
Read the whole story: The Guardian