We are trapped within the boundries of our knowledge. We are prisoners to an epistemic trap.

The reason traps trap us is because there are made in an asymmetric way. We make an assumption that getting into a room will be as simple as getting out but once the door is closed behind us, we discover that opening the door from the outside is not as easiliy equivalent as opening it from the inside. We realize we've made the assumption only when we discover that we are wrong.

Knowledge traps because, like the booby-trap, obtaining knowledge, makeing an assumption, is far easier than replacing it.

When one decides – whether based upon experiece or sheer reason (I know a kid that when presented with new food she says "I don't need to taste it in order to know I don't like it") – that one doesn't like eggplants, then he/she will refrain from having them until he/she will decide to challenge the decisioon.

what make us challenge the boundaries of our knowledge? what make us break free from the epistemic trap and not in regarding to eggplants or any other contrivances but in regarding to other people, people we have a conflict with specifically?

Bill and David are co-workers which were assigned to project x. The former time they were assigned to the same project, Bill was late in handing out his inputs, a fact that left David with the impression that Bill is unreliable. Based on the knowledge "Bill is unreliable", David approaches their managers with the request not to work with Bill on the project. David is trapped within the boundaries of his knowledge (in regarding to Bill) and once this decision won't be challanged, David will never agree to collaborate with Bill. Once Bill will hear that David doesn't want to work with him, he will react to that knowledge by making a decision of his own in regarding to David, hence from that point further Bill will be as well trapped in an epistemic trap of his own.

I believe that an epistemic trap regarding other human beings can be called a conflict. David and Bill are having one and and until they will not challenge their assumptions regarding each other, they will stay traped in their conflict.

I claim that whether David initial decision regarding Bill is true or not, is irrelavent to the discussion. Once David has made such a decision he immediately stops exploring any other options that might serve his interests better than the decision not to collaborate with Bill. Hence, epistemic traps lead to irrationality.

The reason that the asked question – what is needed to challange an epistemic trap – is higly important is because it might shed a light about how can conflict be unraveled, how can cooperation between rivals can be facilitated.

Author's Bio: 

With academic background in Economics, Accountancy, Law and Philosophy Asaf Shani is a highly experienced facilitator - consultant - trainer on confrontational situations. A Confrontational situation is a situation in which two entities (groups or individuals), holding opposing viewpoints, meet. Every conflict, negotiation, sales encounter, a difficult conversation etc, falls into this category.

Asaf started his way in the M&A division of Delloite & Touche, then in the beginning of 2001 he established Shani Mediation Inc. which specializes in consulting and training corporations and individuals.

He developed unique models like the I Win model and Unravel the conflict methodology that were successfully implemented in giant firms like IBM, Microsoft, Intel, HP, Coca-Cola, Nokia, Orange, along with government agencies, hospitals and many SMB organizations.

His hobbies include Kung-Fu, horse riding, swimming and jogging.