The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads us to overestimate the knowledge of our audience. If you allow this curse to infect your writing, you may unwittingly leave supporters feeling confused an alienated. To make matters worse—the more experience you gain as an advocate, the more susceptible you become to the curse.
Common traps include:
The assumption that our supporter understands the political process; the role of Ministerial Departments; what electorate they’re in; party acronyms; or what party their MP belongs to. They may not.
The assumption that when we reference things like ‘supply chains’, ‘mortality rate’, or use welfare terms (such as ‘furnished cage’, ‘sow stall’, ‘maceration’), our supporters will know what those terms mean and their implications for animals. Chances are, they know neither.
Assuming that our supporter is familiar with the definitions of legal terms such as ‘breach’, ‘regulation’, or ‘regulatory authority’. Don’t bank on it.
The assumption that our supporters have been following our campaign and don’t need a gentle reminder of why it’s important or how our current focus will tangibly help animals. They do.
Once you’re aware of the curse, it’s easy to beat. Use common language in place of technical terms and processes. Write for those who know little if anything about your topic.
One of the biggest lessons this curse has taught me is that depending on my audience, being “precise” and being “understood” are not always the same things!
Was this tip useful?
Like this tip? Share it!