I Know because the People around me Think they Know

If I think I understand because the people around me think they understand, and the people around me all think they understand because the people around them all think they understand, then it turns out we can all have this strong sense of understanding even though no one really has any idea what they're talking about.

Everyone has a compulsion to be right, meaning that they want the people around them to think they're right, and this is easily achieved by mouthing the things that the people around you say. And people who are more capable tend to be better at finding ways to interpret new facts in line with their community's preconceptions.

I like to live in communities that put a premium on getting things right even when they fly in the face of social norms. This means living with constant tension, but it's worth it.

Steven Sloman quoted in Vox