Salaam Dear Reader,
The Prophetﷺ taught us that we must always engage with knowledge, either as scholars, learners, or listeners. And if we can't do these things, we must at least love knowledge. There is no fifth option. To put it another way, we cannot have apathy towards knowledge.
But apathy to knowledge does exist and is increasing. I believe that it is the primary reason why people are reading less and less. Why is there apathy to knowledge? Is it because of our media environment? Is it because of liquid modernity? Everything we experience is skittish and transmuting, so why try to get a handle on things? Both factors may be at play, but perhaps there is another reason. Perhaps we are indifferent to knowledge because we think that we know all there is to know within ourselves, without recourse to external objective sources of knowledge (or much effort). The power of positive thinking perhaps? Not quite.
As it turns out, there is such a cognitive bias, and it even has a name: the Dunning-Kruger Effect. People who have little knowledge about something cannot recognise their deficiency. Tragically, this lack of self-awareness leads them to not only overestimate their own proficiency, but to also fail to recognise the competence of people who do have mastery. Everyone is susceptible to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, no matter what their IQ.
We need to be aware that this is a pitfall. And the way to mitigate this is to orient ourselves towards growth, to be close to those who know more than us, to ask questions, to read, to write, and to commit to a life of learning.
May Allah increase us in knowledge.