Knowing is not half the battle

Children of the 1980's (like the younger of these two co-authors) may fondly remember a TV cartoon called G. I. Joe, whose closing conceit—a cheesy public service announcement—remains a much-parodied YouTube sensation almost thirty years later. Following each of these moralizing pronouncements came the show's famous epithet: "Now you know. And knowing is half the battle."

While there may be some domains where knowing is half the battle, there are many more where it is not. Recent work in cognitive science has demonstrated that knowing is a shockingly tiny portion of the battle for most real world decisions. You may know that $19.99 is pretty much the same price as $20.00, but the first still feels like a significantly better deal. You may know a prisoner's guilt is independent of whether you are hungry or not, but she'll still seem like a better candidate for parole when you've recently had a snack.

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Children of the 1980’s (like the younger of these two co-authors) may fondly remember a TV cartoon called G. I. Joe, whose closing conceit—a cheesy public service announcement—remains a much-parodied YouTube sensation almost thirty years later. Following each of these moralizing pronouncements …

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