Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Kruger Effect























There is a somewhat well known psychological effect that describes a cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger effect.  It's when people of low ability have illusory superiority and incorrectly assess their own ability to be higher than it really is.

The term lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people immediately recognize—that fools are blind to their own foolishness. As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

This from the verywellmind:

Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

The effect is named after researchers David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the two social psychologists who first described it. In their original study on this psychological phenomenon, they performed a series of four investigations and found that people who scored in the lowest percentiles on tests of grammar, humor, and logic also tended to dramatically overestimate how well they had performed. Their actual test scores placed them in the 12th percentile, yet they estimated that their performance placed them in the 62nd percentile.

This effect can have a profound impact on what people believe, the decisions they make, and the actions they take. In one study, Dunning  found that women performed equally to men on a science quiz, and yet women underestimated their performance because they believed they had less scientific reasoning ability than men.

Dunning and his colleagues have also performed experiments in which they ask respondents if they are familiar with a variety of terms related to subjects including politics, biology, physics, and geography. Along with genuine subject-relevant concepts, they interjected completely made up terms.

In one such study, approximately 90 percent of respondents claimed that they had at least some knowledge of the made up terms. Consistent with other findings related to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the more familiar participants claimed that they were with a topic, the more likely they were to also claim they were familiar with the meaningless terms. As Dunning has suggested, the very trouble with ignorance is that it can feel just like expertise."

So if the incompetent tend to think they are experts, what to genuine experts think of their own abilities? Dunning and Kruger found that those at the high end of the competence spectrum did hold more realistic views of their own knowledge and capabilities. However, these experts actually tended to underestimate their own abilities relative to how others did."

Of course there is a lot out there about Dunning Kruger these days mostly because we have elected a leader who seems to be a poster child for the effect.  He uses the best words, he is very smart, he knows more about "intelligence" than his experts, knows more than his generals, he loves tariffs, thinks MOU's are useless pieces of paper, and on and on.

But my point is not about him.  It's about the folks who voted for him.  As the weeks have turned into years, I now see the administration for what it seems to be.  An bumbling incompetent bunch of pretenders who think they know more than they do. Because they were elected by the thinnest of margins by their fellow Dunning Krugerites, they characterize it as the greatest  electoral college victory in American history even though Obama's victories were greater both times.  They compensate for empty viewing stands by saying it was the greatest crowd ever.

They back out of international trade treaties only to renegotiate a new better deal which looks very much like the original agreement.  They secretly negotiate nuclear plant deals with the Saudi's as they back out of nuclear bomb deals with the Iranians.

The Dunning-Kruger effect has real implications for Democracy.  If weaponized, it allows for a dangerous manipulation of the voter pool.   LOCK HER UP and BUILD THAT WALL become chants of solidarity that are really little more than thin veneers of respectability over the counter evolutionary demiurges of racism and misogyny.

There is another Kruger out there with an E.

And Freddy was virtually all powerful in the dream world.

But when pulled into the real world,

he was vulnerable.

So, let's end our nightmare by waking up.

We can't sleep through this night.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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