20 Jan

The Curse of Knowledge

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I recently learnt about this concept called the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ by my friend, Danny, and I found it to be a very interesting concept.

According to Wikipedia,

“The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when, in predicting others’ forecasts or behaviours, individuals are unable to ignore the knowledge they have which others do not have, or when they are unable to disregard information already processed.

An example of the curse of knowledge is demonstrated in a classroom setting, where teachers, or subject experts, have difficulty teaching novices because they cannot put themselves in the position of the student.

A brilliant professor of calculus may no longer remember the difficulties that a young student may be encountering when learning calculus.

This curse of knowledge also explains the danger in thinking about student learning based on what appears best to faculty members, as opposed to what had been verified with students.”

I learnt about this concept when I was casually discussing my idea of starting my blog. I remember mentioning to my friends Joshua and Danny about the fear of ‘not having original content’ to provide.

I was convinced that,

“Most people probably already know this, and that is why I am hesitating to start”.

To which, they assured me by responding,

“There is no such thing as “original” under the sun. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s all about packaging yourself differently. ”

So how does the curse of knowledge affect us and what can we do to overcome it?

One of the ways the curse of knowledge affects you is when you are an expert in something based on experience, for example, a productivity coach. If you have been a student of productivity yourself, you will probably absorb and study the subject of productivity and apply it in your life. You know about 98% of whatever there is to know about productivity.

Based on the bell curve, experts fall in the minority, but because of the ‘Curse of Knowledge’, experts entering the industry have the tendency to assume that most people already know the information that they know. Because of this, experts who are starting out to sell/showcase their ‘expertise’ often hesitate to sell/showcase it because they lack confidence.

They have a mind-block. They assume their target market already knows what they know. They are unable to articulate why they are different from the next expert in their field.

If this is a field where there is no clear person positioned as a leader, the curse of knowledge will hold you back from bagging that title.

When it comes to concepts and information, you need to have something to showcase yourself as the go-to expert. If you don’t own material wealth like a Red Ferrari, if you are not an academic, if you don’t have multiple degrees or academic reports, or if you don’t have clients’ results to prove your expertise… it becomes a little tricky to get people interested and it directly affects your confidence.

And when it comes to business, confidence sells.

Identify the Gaps

The first step to overcome the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ is to realise that the reason you probably feel the way inadequate is because you have not done enough market research on what the majority of the people know about this topic.

In other words, you need to know at the back of your mind what the layman knows about the topic, and compare it with what you know. You need to know what mistakes they make. You need to know what information they lack. You need to know what the average man knows inside-out.

For that to take place, you have to do lots of market research to find out what the average man, the ‘intermediates’ as shown in the bell curve above, know. Get into his or her head, and see things from their point of view. Understand their problems and provide the solution by communicating it to them in simple language. Once you can do this, you immediately will gain the confidence to position yourself as an expert.

If you want to monetize your knowledge, earn a PhD on your target audience and you will overcome the very ‘curse of knowledge’ that is holding you back.

And that’s the only way to lift the ‘Curse of Knowledge’

Good Luck!



Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really appreciate it. Of course, please feel free to share with your communities, because that’s what this is all about today – creating an inclusive society by sharing. If you like my style and what I talk about, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn or on Facebook. My blog is here.

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#CurseofKnowledge #SelfHelp #FromIntermediatetoExpert #OvercomingMentalBarriers

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