Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dunning-Kruger Epoch...

Image Source: Psychology Today link below

Topics: Civics, Commentary, Existentialism

Named for Cornell psychologist David Dunning and his then-grad student Justin Kruger, this is the observation that people who are ignorant or unskilled in a given domain tend to believe they are much more competent than they are.

Dunning and Kruger documented this effect in a number of quantitative contexts. Its first publication, in 1999, bore the memorable title, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments." The authors observed that you need skill and knowledge to judge how skilled and knowledgeable you are. A tone-deaf singer may be unable to distinguish her talent from that of the greatest stars. Why then shouldn't she believe she's their equal? Source: Psychology Today

I casually conducted an interesting thought experiment with my wife. I asked her the name of the gynecologist that delivered our youngest son. She recalled her. "How do you think she became an OB/GYN?" I asked. The obvious answer was going to college and making excellent grades, getting into grad school with impeccable MCAT scores, then after four years or so, graduating with an MD, residency and eventually her own practice. In other words, several YEARS of preparation, internship and study.

We don't think of politics in that light, and the advent of the Internet has taken our impatience with the governing process to Attention Deficit Disorder levels nationally. We "get the gist" of a subject in a few Internet searches, assuming that's all the expertise one would need. A librarian at my last high school in Manor, Texas tried mightily to instruct using Boolean logic search terms and strategies to narrow focus, rather than merely going with a single wild card term and taking the first links provided. It seemed for my class at least to fall on deaf ears. My generation (admittedly) and literally created the analog version of this need to get-to-the-answer: Cliff Notes, followed by Made Simple, Schaum's Outline, Research Education Associates Problem Solvers and the most recent incarnation "For Dummies" series'. These were and still are, supplement books we bought and READ as well as the hard, grinding work of rewriting notes, going to study groups and mastering the material. I'm not against Internet searches (I use them), but eventually you have the problem, in front of you or on paper you have to solve, either under the stress of a testing environment or a deadline. Sadly, the democratization of information has not produced wisdom.

The Constitution was crafted literally in the "horse and buggy" days, things were slow and the Founders - property/(reprehensible) slave owners - were steeped in learning and history, especially of Europe and the tendency to hide the corruption of royalty and the aristocracy, thereby empowering autocrats. "Checks and balances" were designed for a government not to get overarching, or not let any president become a demagogue or tyrant. A governing document created post the advent of electricity and Twitter would change overnight - several times several times - at the whim of "likes" or emojis. That is a republic foundation built on sifting, Silicon quicksand. We are currently at 2,000 lies, and apparently racially slurring nations of color is just as "presidential" as Andrew Jackson's Trail of Tears.

Quoting the link from Psychology Today:

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Those who have the slightest bit of experience think they know it all. That's the peak at upper left. Then, with increasing experience, people realize how little they do know, how modest their skills are. Perceptions reach a minimum (center of chart), then slant upward again. Those at the level of genius recognize their talent, though tend to lack the supreme confidence of the ignoramus.

The chart is almost a emoticon: a smile turned smirk.

I'm purposely avoiding the use of any names. As such, I do not think any celebrity - talk show host or reality star - should ascend to the role of president without academic preparation, judicious study and experience in jurisprudence as well as law.

Would anyone want an amateur performing an episiotomy on your wife, or "winging it" on Braxton Hicks contractions? No one can "Google" that!


"The whole problem with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

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