We think we know a lot, even though individually we know very little, because we treat knowledge in the minds of others as if it were our own.
This is not necessarily bad. Our reliance on groupthink has made us masters of the world, and the knowledge illusion enables us to go through life without being caught in an impossible effort to understand everything ourselves. From an evolutionary perspective, trusting in the knowledge of others has worked extremely well for Homo sapiens.
However, for better or worse, elections and referendums are not about what we think. They are about what we feel. And when it comes to feelings, Einstein and Dawkins are no better than anyone else. Democracy assumes that human feelings reflect a mysterious and profound 'free will, that this 'free will is the ultimate source of authority, and that while some people are more intelligent than others, all humans are equally free
The liberal belief in the feelings and free choices of individuale neither natural nor very ancient. For thousands of years de believed that authority came from divine laws rather than from the human heart, and that we should therefore sanctify the word of God rather than human liberty. Only in the last few centuries did the source of authority shift from celestial deities to flesh-andblood humans.
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, scientific insights into the way our brains and bodies work suggest that our feelings are not some uniquely human spiritual quality, and they do not reflect any kind of free will'. Rather, feelings are biochemical mechanisms that all mammals and birds use in order to quickly calculate probabilities of survival and reproduction. Feelings aren't based on intuition, inspiration or freedom - they are based on calculation.
Since the corporations and entrepreneurs who lead the technological revolution naturally tend to sing the praises of their creations, it falls to sociologists, philosophers and historians like myself to sound the alarm and explain all the ways things can go terribly wrong.
For years I had lived under the impression that I was the master of my life, the CEO of my own personal brand. But a few hours of meditation were enough to show me that I had hardly any control over myself. I was not the CEO; I was barely the gatekeeper.
Whenever politicians start talking in mystical terms, beware. They might be trying to disguise and excuse real suffering by wrapping it up in big, incomprehensible words. Be particularly careful about the following four words: “sacrifice,” “eternity,” “purity,” “redemption.” If you hear any of these four, sound the alarm.
Well, maybe Tesla will just leave it to the market. Tesla could produce two models of the self-driving car: the Tesla Altruist and the Tesla Egoist. In an emergency, the Altruist sacrifices its owner to the greater good, whereas the Egoist does everything in its power to save its owner, even if it means killing the two kids. Customers will then be able to buy the car that best fits their favorite philosophical view. If more people buy the Tesla Egoist, you won't be able to blame Tesla for that. After all, the customer is always right.
You might counter that people were asked “What do you think?" rather than "What do you feel?,” but this is a common misperception. Referendums and elections are always about human feelings, not about human rationality. If democracy were a matter of rational decision-making, there would be absolutely no reason to give all people equal voting rights or perhaps any voting rights at all. There is ample evidence that some people are far more knowledgeable and rational than others, certainly when it comes to specific economic and political questions