Why Fans Fight: The Curse of Knowledge in Movies and Beyond


There is a very interesting phenomenon on the Internet. When a movie adapted from a novel or comic is released, there will often be a quarrel between the “original party” who have read the original work and the “movie party” who have watched the movie directly.

Fans of the original work will be more picky about the plot, the acting is not up to the mark, and the characters, graphics, and styling are not restored and they will complain. But the movie party feels that the quality is good and not so bad in all aspects.

Both sides feel that the other side is unreasonable, and the reason for the disagreement is that the information between the two sides is not equal.

The original party knows the content of the original work and likes the content of the original work. When the movie adaptation destroys the classic image in their hearts, they will be dissatisfied.

People who understand the story through the movie for the first time simply cannot see the problems that only the original party can’t see, so they will appear more tolerant.


In fact, the reason for the quarrel between the original film party and the film party was studied by someone as early as 30 years ago.

In 1990, Elizabeth Newton conducted a simple game study at Stanford University.

In this game, she divided participants into two roles: “tappers” and “listeners.” Each tapper would get a list of 25 famous songs, such as “Happy Birthday to You.” and the American national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Each tapper needs to select a song from the song list and tap the rhythm of the song to the audience by tapping on the table, and then let the audience guess the song name based on the rhythm of the tapping.

This game sounds simple, but the actual results are unexpected: the tapper knocked out the rhythm of 120 songs, but the listener only guessed 2.5% of them, which is 3 songs.

What’s even more interesting is that before the listeners guessed the songs, the tappers were asked to predict the probability that the listeners would guess correctly. They predicted a probability of 50%, which means they should guess correctly once for at least two songs.

Why is this?

When a tapper taps a song, he “hears” the song in his head because he knows the name of the song.

To the listener, there is no “song title” in their head, so all they hear is: “Ta, tap, tap, tap.”

But it is impossible for the percussionist to imagine that the percussions heard by the listener are not a piece of music.

It’s called: the curse of knowledge.

The curse of knowledge refers to the fact that once we know something ourselves, we find it difficult to imagine what it would be like not to know it .

Our knowledge curses us, and it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others because we cannot easily understand the state of mind of our listeners.


In the Marvel series of movies, there is also mention of the curse of knowledge.

In “Avengers 3″, Thanos once said to Iron Man: ” You are not the only one cursed by knowledge. The two cherish each other. ”

Because Iron Man understood the terror of Thanos and the impending threat to the earth, he invented Ultron, thus losing Jarvis and causing widespread death.

Knowing the expansion of the universe’s population, wars, and a series of problems caused by disease, Thanos decided to snap his fingers and cause the death of half of the people in the universe.

It is precisely because of their rich knowledge that they see things that ordinary people cannot see, so they are all cursed by knowledge.

In daily life, there are also many curses of knowledge.

For example: in recent years, tutoring children with homework has been something that many parents talk about with disdain. There is even a popular word in parent circles – auxophobia, which describes parents who tutor their children with homework as if they are going through a tribulation. Once tutored, they lose control of their emotions and their blood pressure rises. .

For example: When a couple quarreled, the girl said angrily, “You don’t understand me at all, I just want to do whatever I want.” The boy felt particularly wronged, but you didn’t say anything. I don’t know what you were thinking. Therefore, boys often think that girls are losing their temper unreasonably and unreasonably.

For example: During class, the teacher talks endlessly on the podium. The knowledge that is very complicated to the students is very basic in the teacher’s view, so there are many jumps during the explanation, which will eventually lead to the students not learning anything in class. .


The famous media person Shen Shuaibo once said, “In China, no matter how well-known things are, at least 100 million people don’t know about them, and most of the time, even 1 billion people don’t know about them.”

Let’s rephrase this sentence: What you take for granted within your major is something that one billion people outside your major don’t know about .

The curse of knowledge is also the reason why it is difficult for a lot of academic knowledge to move from universities to the public.

This problem is extremely obvious in academic sharing. When a great scientist talks about scientific discoveries seriously on the podium, the audience may gradually become confused due to too many professional terms and even a series of formulas. Lost interest in listening.

A popular science article with detailed content may also use unfamiliar words and lack of foreshadowing, making it difficult for ordinary readers to digest and abandon the article directly.

Even within academia, boring and difficult lectures and convoluted documents give colleagues a headache.

The reason for this phenomenon is that ordinary people have neither enough background knowledge nor enough patience. When they cannot tolerate the poor expression of a serious science popularization article, they will ask the media to produce more popular content.

But the problem is that the popular science content interpreted by the media is often not close to the essence of science, and may even have nothing to do with science.

This is also the reason why Chinese chips have been “stuck” a while ago. Although there are many media popularizations about how difficult chip manufacturing is, many netizens still shout that it will surpass Japan in three years and surpass the United States in five years. This strong confidence and the current Chinese chip manufacturing The state of the industry is completely mismatched.


How can we avoid the curse of knowledge?

It’s also very simple. The main thing is to regard yourself as the audience, put yourself on the same page as the audience, and then conceive the communication method from the perspective of the learner. The details are as follows:

①Clear the object of learning: the recipient of learning is him, not you

Before communicating, you need to first understand who you are communicating with, understand their gender, age, education and other information, analyze the knowledge gaps between you and them, and consider the range of complexity they can accept before communicating.

② Think about the problem from another person’s perspective: Don’t just think about the problem from the perspective of the individual, but from the perspective of the learner and others.

Think of yourself as a learner and pretend to be a learner. When you want to convey knowledge to them, try to explain it from the perspective of the learner, such as background information, development process, essence of principles, follow-up trends, etc. You can make good use of analogies, splitting, etc. to reduce the complexity of explanations. Difficulty.

③Find communication methods and conceive communication methods from the perspective of learners.

Explaining from the perspective of the learner requires down-to-earth and vernacular language. While the explanation is accurate, it is best to use vernacular language to refine and share complex information.

The second is to make good use of concrete things as the basis for abstraction. For example, when we were young, we learned 5-3=?, and the teacher used the question “If you have 5 candies, and you eat 3, how many are left” to guide you. Learning, this method is called contextual arithmetic , and it can very well solve the problem of explaining abstract concepts.

④Finally, adjust the communication method through observation.

While communicating, you must also be good at observing the audience’s reactions, and adjust your explanation methods based on their reaction signals. A frown means it is still too difficult, a distraction means the explanation is boring, etc.


As usual, here’s the summary.

The curse of knowledge, the curse of knowledge, means that once we know something ourselves, we find it difficult to imagine what it would be like not to know it.

She is everywhere in life and “impossible to guard against.” However, for ourselves, we must always pay attention to whether we are in the “curse of knowledge”.

Once you find yourself in one, first calm down your emotions, and then remind yourself to deal with it with empathy, so that you can break the curse.

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