Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Cognitive Bias Curse of Knowledge


A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking. It affects everyone. Biases affect you even when you’re aware of them and actively try to correct the errors.

Curse of Knowledge is a problem that affects experts after a certain period of teaching concepts to others. This is the cognitive bias that becomes a problem for educators if left unchecked.

Once you understand a concept clearly you forget that there was actually a time when you didn’t understand it. The complexities of a concept in the early stages are forgotten when a certain level of expertise is attained in it. When this happens, jargon and industry-centric words and acronyms become common usage terms.

If you are an educator, though, you have to watch out for this expertise manifesting into judgment about the rest of the world’s ignorance. The very reason some people come to learn a concept from you is that they don’t know it. If your "knowledge" either causes you to judge them harshly or to patronise them by dumbing down the explanations, then you are not doing your job as an educator. You are inflicted by the curse of knowledge.

To become aware if you have this curse is simple: Are you constantly using jargon? Do you speak with too many acronyms? Do people frequently ask you clarifications about stuff that seems too simple to you? Do you feel like you have no patience with people who ask "silly" questions?

If you answered yes to more than one question above, you are cursed. But, the good news is that it is easy to get out of this curse. Do not patronise your learners, but explain concepts like you would explain to a 10-year-old. That’s it. The idea is simple, but it takes time.

Teaching is a career that few people stumble into. Good teachers are fewer still. Amazing teachers are the rarest.

Take the curse and turn into a blessing. Use this Blessing of Knowledge, and make big, long-lasting impact on the lives of your learners!

The cure for the curse,