<aside> 💡 This cognitive bias is better known under the name curse of knowledge. I think the Expert trap is a better name because it’s shorter and has a better association with the root of the problem.



Better-informed have trouble or are unable to pass knowledge to less-informed. This bias has large and overlooked consequences.

Hindsight bias and expert trap

The phrase “expert trap” was first used in 1989 by Camerer and Loewenstein. They saw it closely relating to Hindsight bias. - knowing the outcome makes people be falsely confident that they would have predicted the answer.

It is as if our brains are wishfully reconstructing the knowledge to fit the outcome. Therefore if a person is better-informed about the line of reasoning they may be less inquisitive about the knowledge, less motivated to look at it from first principles – and gleaning over the ingredients of the process, bending them to fit the outcome.

“Study participants could not accurately reconstruct their previous, less knowledgeable states of mind, which directly relates to the curse of knowledge. This poor reconstruction was theorized by Fischhoff to be because the participant was "anchored in the hindsightful state of mind created by receipt of knowledge". Fischhoff, Baruch (2003). "Hindsight is not equal to foresight: The effect of outcome knowledge on judgment under uncertainty".

Tapping experiment metaphor

When subjects were asked to finger-tap a popular tune of their choosing they were hugely overconfident about how many people would get it. They estimated that 50% of people would get it whereas in reality, 1.33% got it. from 1990 Stanford experiment

I have concerns if that is a piece of solid evidence because this discrepancy may be attributed to a specific characteristic of this task. I treat this more as a potent metaphor for the dynamism of what happens when better-informed is passing the knowledge to less-informed.


We are constantly subjected to forgetting. We strengthen neural connections between ideas we actively use and therefore forget how it was not to understand it.

Experts are often worse at predicting reality Philip Tetlock

"Studies have found that deep expertise in a subject does not positively correlate with accuracy in judgment. As part of his research on forecasting, professor Phillip Tetlock conducted a study with 284 political experts, that generated over 80,000 informed (where the estimate matched the area of expertise of the individual) and uninformed predictions over the course of 20 years. Surprisingly, Tetlock discovered that specialists are less reliable than non-experts, even within their specific area of study. In fact, the study concludes that after a certain point, deepening one's knowledge about a specific topic is affected by the law of diminishing returns and can hinder the ability to accurately predict a certain outcome. The results of the study can be attributed to the fact that subject matter experts are more likely to suffer from confirmation bias and are more likely to feel the pressure associated with reputational damage, both of which can affect their ability to produce accurate predictions” from Link

Experts are often motivated by status rather than the truth

The more the expertise is driven by acquiring or guarding status, the harder it will be not to fall into the expert trap.

Even though this is a short explanation. This dynamic, that I call Hierarchy bias 🎨, is influencing in why Expert trap 🎨 is existing.

Robin Hanson sees this as one of the main functions of academia: “Academia functions to (A) create and confer prestige to associated researchers, students, firms, cities, and nations” Link

This topic is extensively explained in Elephant in the Brain