As you can see from the study, we need to be wary of making up answers! As Holly Green puts it
We don’t like ambiguity, unanswered questions, or information gaps. And we like to be right (some of us more than others). So we often go out of our way to “explain” things even when the real explanation eludes us…
Sometimes it is easier to notice others confabulating, as explained in this MIT paper
We are all familiar with people who seem to be unable to say the words ‘‘I don’t know,’’ and will quickly produce some sort of plausible-sounding response to whatever they are asked. A friend once described a mutual acquaintance as ‘‘a know-it-all who doesn’t know anything.’’
I think a good antidote is to practice saying “I don’t know”.
It’s not as easy as it sounds… It may be difficult in certain contexts! The same paper explains some reasons why. We tend to like people - particularly leaders - to be certain in their communication, and strong social forces discourage doubting or pleading ignorance in many situations. That said, I’ve found learning to say “I don’t know” a little more often to be a really valuable habit.
I’ll leave you with something from Socrates:
Awareness of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.