Reality Straight Up!

Thoughts & Observations of a Free Range Astrophysicist

The Illusion of Knowledge

Why We Make Things Up

We rely on our understanding of the world to get through the day, and so in the absence of reliable knowledge we grab onto anything. But if you want to succeed it’s best not to stop there.


When I speak to business audiences I always start by pointing an accusing finger at the Illusion of Knowledge.  “Here is the root of four out of five failures in the business world,” I say. “If you want your business to thrive, here is enemy number one!”

That accusation begs the question, if the Illusion of Knowledge is so pernicious then why do we have it?

Knowledge can be a Very Dangerous Illusion

Some of what you think that you know is fine, but some isn’t. Here’s the rub. You don’t know which is which!  In a rapidly changing high stakes world that simple truth holds the key to your fate.

The UFO Syndrome

Psychologists Call it Confirmation Bias

Central to my message is the fact that while much of what we think we know may be reliable, much of it is really only a W.A.G. – a wild ass guess.  The problem is that we don’t know which is which.  To make matters worse, our natural tendency is to go out there and actively reinforce those W.A.G.s!  We look for and pay attention to things that agree with our preconceptions and dismiss things that don’t.  In the process we run the risk of solidifying the very notions that might one day be our downfall. 
Over his 30 year career as an internationally known astrophysicist, Dr. Jeff Hester was a key member of the team that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. With one foot always on the frontiers of knowledge, he has been mentor, coach, team leader, award-winning teacher, administrator and speaker, to name a few of the hats he has worn. His Hubble image, the Pillars of Creation, was chosen by Time Magazine as among the 100 most influential photographs in history.
©Dr. Jeff Hester LLC, 5301 S. Superstition Mountain Dr., Suite 104 #171, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118