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Our Illusions of Knowledge (Nos illusions de connaissance)

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Original Language: French | 260 pp. | January 2019

2 Seas Represents: World Excl. French Rights.

ESSAY | POPULAR SCIENCE 

An essential book to understand how we form our opinions and to understand the tricks that our brain plays sometimes, to better control it.

We do not see the world as it is, rather, we reconstruct it in our mind. This interpretation of the world is highly subjective and various elements influence the way we acquire knowledge and form opinions. Our current world is a sea of information and it is becoming ever easier to find that which will confirm whatever we already believe. The act of doubt is often direct- ed outwards towards the media, experts, politicians or parents but rarely inwards, toward our self which creates rigid thinking and reduces mental flexibility.

In Our Illusions of Knowledge, we will explore the building blocks of our perception, cognitions and behaviors that are involved in acquiring knowledge, forming opinions or taking decisions. We will look at how we reconstruct the world at a perceptual level and confabulate stories to attribute it meaning based on our priors and how these priors impact the stories we make which in turn impact us. We will also introduce the various elements that can influence our interactions with the world such as stress, motivated reasoning, cognitive dissonance or illusions of knowledge and the effects that they have on us and the social environment around us. Finally, we will try to see what we can do to mitigate the negative effects of these various elements through self-doubt, thinking about thinking, learning to learn and learning to un- learn and try to build a less polarized society.

Dr. Albert Moukheiber, 36, is a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist. He has worked for 10 years in the psychiatry department at the Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris, focusing mainly on anxiety disorders and resilience. He now works as a clinician at his practice and teaches at the University in the clinical psychology department. He has also founded Chiasma, a structure that is interested in how our brain reconstructs reality to confirm our prior beliefs and how to promote mental flexibility.