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More knowledge and information generate more ignorance and less wisdom

We frequently hear that joke saying that marriage is the main cause of divorce. Technically, it is true. In the same way, it could be said that knowledge is the main cause of ignorance. And it may well be that this is so because it is clear that easy access to the enormous amount of information and knowledge we now have is confused with wisdom.

A simple and even superfluous visit to social networks or a brief look at most of the options offered in whatever screen or platform one prefers seems to indicate that people easily confuse access to certain information with knowing and, even worse, wisdom.

I remember (some years ago) when someone pointed out to me that he no longer needed to learn Greek to read the classical texts because now “I just need to move the mouse to see the translation”, adding “Now I know Greek”. (If my Greek teacher, with whom I studied at university for five years, had heard that phrase, he might have had a nervous breakdown.)

And in another, more recent case, someone insisted that she had already learned how to cook risotto because she had watched a YouTube video on the subject.

In both cases, the self-deception of believing that one "knows" because one accessed certain information should be obvious, but it is not. Strangely, the reason we live in a time when it's not just about knowing, but about knowing something that others don't know and that, therefore, allows us to show others how wrong they are.

That is the context in which conspiracy theories arise and multiply, allowing people not only to believe whatever they want to believe, but also to find "arguments" and "reasons" to believe it, without needing to activate any kind of critical thinking or doing any kind of serious research.

Therefore, the person who uncritically accepts a "theory" (or ideology, or creed, or dogma) sees himself as a person with privileged knowledge and, therefore, as a "wise" person. At the same time, the others who do not accept this "knowledge" are seen as "ignorant".

In other words, conspiracy theories seem to be the psychological response not only to an unmanageable and ever-changing amount of knowledge and information, but also to the epistemoccracy (as described by the Spanish philosopher Daniel Innerarity) that gives it prominence of knowing over ignorance.

In short, when two and a half millennia ago Socrates expressed "I only know that I know nothing", that was a way of expressing his wisdom. But now, when someone says (or hints) "I only know that I already know everything", that is a way of making their ignorance known, which, far from being an ignorance caused by lack of knowledge, is an arrogant ignorance that it knows itself as such and, for this reason, it does not want to (and cannot) know.

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