One of the greatest adventures in uncovering new information is the clash between our new ways of thinking and the opinions we had moments prior. Our brains play tricks on us, through cognitive fallacies, when dealing with disruptive evidence.
One such fallacy is called “hindsight bias,” a kind of knew-it-all-along effect. I have given complex and novel findings to clients who quickly proclaim that the information is basic and obvious in some way. Sometimes it is basic and obvious, but quite often they had opposite views minutes earlier. Learning and research can be thankless because it is so common for smart people to quickly absorb new information. They don’t recall being ignorant. If they do remember being ignorant, they’re not tempted to draw attention to it.
Those who neglect to pursue new knowledge and feed their curiosity become less savvy over time. The times change, people change, and evidence shifts. People who figured out the ways of the world many years ago start to lose their grip. They have dubious clothing, haircuts, and social views. They overlook emerging evidence.
Real smarts are not really about having a vault of information; it is the act of striving to explore. I watch new data make its way through the organization, with little or no attribution to me or the original source. Things quickly become known. The culture becomes smarter. It is quietly satisfying.