You’re not as smart as you think you are

Does the internet make us overconfident? Are we unable to distinguish between what’s stored in our own heads and what’s in the cloud?

I don’t know about you, but I love being able to spontaneously look things up when I don’t know the answer immediately.

This interview delves into how Yale doctoral candidate Matthew Fisher and his colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil asked people a series of questions that seemed answerable but were actually difficult. The questions concerned things people assume they know but actually don’t—such as why there are phases of the moon and how glass is made. Some people were allowed to look up the answers on the internet, while others were not. Then the researchers asked a second set of questions on unrelated topics. In comparison with the other subjects, the people who’d been allowed to do online searches vastly overestimated their ability to answer the new questions correctly.

Read the interview in full at hbr.org.

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