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Ignorance is bliss or I'm stupid and don't know it


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We're all tired of fools in our lives. I recalled reading the following article and did a Web search for "some people don't know they're stupid" to find it again. The search yielded 4,200,000 hits. There seems to be plenty of answers.

Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance Is Bliss

By ERICA GOODE

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear he might be one of them.

Dr. Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dr. Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

"I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at and I didn't know it," Dr. Dunning said.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it," wrote Dr. Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dr. Dunning.

This deficiency in "self-monitoring skills," the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.

Some college students, Dr. Dunning said, evince a similar blindness: after doing badly on a test, they spend hours in his office, explaining why the answers he suggests for the test questions are wrong.

In a series of studies, Dr. Kruger and Dr. Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to "grossly overestimate" how well they had performed.

In all three tests, subjects' ratings of their ability were positively linked to their actual scores. But the lowest-ranked participants showed much greater distortions in their self-estimates. Asked to evaluate their performance on the test of logical reasoning, for example, subjects who scored only in the 12th percentile guessed that they had scored in the 62nd percentile, and deemed their overall skill at logical reasoning to be at the 68th percentile.

Similarly, subjects who scored at the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves at the 67th percentile in the ability to "identify grammatically correct standard English," and estimated their test scores to be at the 61st percentile.

On the humor test, in which participants were asked to rate jokes according to their funniness (subjects' ratings were matched against those of an "expert" panel of professional comedians), low-scoring subjects were also more apt to have an inflated perception of their skill. But because humor is idiosyncratically defined, the researchers said, the results were less conclusive.

Unlike their unskilled counterparts, the most able subjects in the study, Dr. Kruger and Dr. Dunning found, were likely to underestimate their own competence. The researchers attributed this to the fact that, in the absence of information about how others were doing, highly competent subjects assumed that others were performing as well as they were -- a phenomenon psychologists term the "false consensus effect."

When high scoring subjects were asked to "grade" the grammar tests of their peers, however, they quickly revised their evaluations of their own performance. In contrast, the self-assessments of those who scored badly themselves were unaffected by the experience of grading others; some subjects even further inflated their estimates of their own abilities.

"Incompetent individuals were less able to recognize competence in others," the researchers concluded.

In a final experiment, Dr. Dunning and Dr. Kruger set out to discover if training would help modify the exaggerated self-perceptions of incapable subjects. In fact, a short training session in logical reasoning did improve the ability of low-scoring subjects to assess their performance realistically, they found.

The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "he who knows best knows how little he knows."

And the research meshes neatly with other work indicating that overconfidence is a common; studies have found, for example, that the vast majority of people rate themselves as "above average" on a wide array of abilities -- though such an abundance of talent would be impossible in statistical terms. And this overestimation, studies indicate, is more likely for tasks that are difficult than for those that are easy.

Such studies are not without critics. Dr. David C. Funder, a psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside, for example, said he suspected that most lay people had only a vague idea of the meaning of "average" in statistical terms.

"I'm not sure the average person thinks of 'average' or 'percentile' in quite that literal a sense," Dr. Funder said, "so 'above average' might mean to them 'pretty good,' or 'O.K.,' or 'doing all right.' And if, in fact, people mean something subjective when they use the word, then it's really hard to evaluate whether they're right or wrong using the statistical criterion."

But Dr. Dunning said his current research and past studies indicated that there were many reasons why people would tend to overestimate their competency, and not be aware of it.

In some cases, Dr. Dunning pointed out, an awareness of one's own inability is inevitable: "In a golf game, when your ball is heading into the woods, you know you're incompetent," he said.

But in other situations, feedback is absent, or at least more ambiguous; even a humorless joke, for example, is likely to be met with polite laughter. And faced with incompetence, social norms prevent most people from blurting out "You stink!" -- truthful though this assessment may be.

All of which inspired in Dr. Dunning and his co-author, in presenting their research to the public, a certain degree of nervousness.

"This article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors or poor communication," they cautioned in their journal report. "Let us assure our readers that to the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly."

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I actually talked to a buddy about this subject once. I told him he was really stupid and if he wants to hang around with me in the future, he better start acting smarter.

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IFALLSRON,
All I can say after reading that, You need to get out in the boat more, you have way too much time on your hands. LOL.....

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Honestly, this post is a bit off the norm, but it's great! I've worked with some gems who have an amazingly high esteem of their work, but have no clue at how bad they are...and on top of that, they dog on others who are better!!! Does make you think of how many people really think they're great fishermen.... wink.gif

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IFallsRon that crap should not be allowed on this form at all. KEEP TO THE FISHING INFORMATION SITE TOPIC. GO WATCH OPRA AND DOC PHIL

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RS Cabin says it well....When I read this blurb, "methidology", "criterion" and "statistical" were words beginng referenced by none other than...a psychiatrist. Many "lay" persons don't have a clue to what these words mean. This type of "book smart, brain dead" crud sounds more like someone with a degree trying to justify it. Besides....we all know that statistics tell only what author wants to show: their side of the story.
This only re-inforces the fact that I should have been a pysc major. I can fill all the requirements. My diagnosis....your are nuts, so go fishing and quit worrying about some you know nothing about.

Plastics...making better fishermen without bait! Good Fishing Guys! CrappieTom
muckbootsonline.com Pro Staff
Culprit Tackle Crappie Pro Staff
[email protected]

[This message has been edited by CrappieTom (edited 05-21-2004).]

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mentally....One good day on the lake fishing crappies out of a canoe on a glass calm evening....would do me better then 29 sessions from a tight-a--ed, harvard taught psychoanalyst....with a bow tie.....lol!... this forum's for .....fishing.....not for "picking one's brain" in the psychiatric field ...jonny

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Can I smell a D-d-d-d-delete. tongue.gif

------------------
And keep those hooks sharp!

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C.T. and others....

I don't know that you should all be jumping on IFRon so fast and hard. Lets look at this another way....

I've seen many, many posts here on FM, where FM'ers have complained about things that have occured on the water - soft or hard. CT, your recent "Etiquette" post in the panfish forum about rude boater behavior, wakes, passing to close to another boat, etc. I added my $.02 (tale of woe) to that thread myself. The "Boaters and Docks" post by Hossienda in this forum is another.

These same sort of posts exist all over FM - in all the forums, ie icefishing - drilling holes at primetime, the proverbial "I fished here last week - this spot is mine!" type of people, etc.

We've all talked about FM being a tool where we hope that those of us who do "do things right" can some how educate those that don't, etc. That maybe, just maybe the person(s) who did us wrong see the given story and recognise themselves.

'Rons article just proves the point - these folks don't know that they're a doing things wrong. In their minds, their behavior is correct. And that's why we need to keep pushing these points, and talking to those who do it wrong, in the hopes of one day these "challenged" folks do catch on.

UG

[This message has been edited by Uncle Grump (edited 05-21-2004).]

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Sompe folks will just plain never "get it". Either you got it or you dont... It doesn't matter how many times you ring the door bell.

Hey - leave my rose colored glasses alone!

[This message has been edited by Harmonica Bear (edited 05-21-2004).]

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IFallsRon gets my vote. . .perhaps not the ideal forum for it, but I'd much rather read it here than never see it.

Thanks again for posting. I've got a feeling that the naysayers on this board would have fit well into the study that is cited in the article.

I'm copying and passing it along to on-line acquaintances who both will and won't get it.

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I've always liked the freedome of choice.If you don't like it,DON'T READ IT !


NO REALLY IT'S THAT EASY !!!!

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Greg

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Hey IFallsRon!
We like that sort of stuff on the politics forum. Post it there.

mm

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IRon- I like it. I have no problem with it and totally agree- if you don't like it, don't read it. And yes, it is that easy!

For those who bash the authors of the studies, the findings might apply. Also, ridiculing something because you don't understand it doesn't make IT dumb...
Lastly, the authors of these studies are not psychiatrists, they're psychologists.

I think we all need to get fishing and lighten up our moods a little. Maybe it was the tough opener that got everyone in a bad mood.
Have a great day and go catch some fish this weekend.

------------------
Scoot

RodsbyEngel: custom made fishing rods

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I read part of it, wasn't real interested but figured I'd read what people replied back. After that I figured maybe I should read it all. It reminds me of something a friend told me once "those who can do. those who can't teach." BTW he happens to be a special ed teacher. And he wonders why I call him a college educated idio. confused.gif

GRIZ

[This message has been edited by psegriz (edited 05-23-2004).]

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Think of the faults that people are willing to own up to:

bad temper
lazy
heavy drinker
impatient
compulsive gamblers, shoppers, eaters.....

You've all probably heard someone admit to any of these faults and others in the past, but never heard anyone admit to being incompetent or lack common sense.

The question I have is, does it make sense to fund research and publish a study to state that in black and white? What purpose does that serve? Somebody needs more to do.

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When I was younger, I used to say there are too many people in the world.

Now, I say there are too many 'stupid' people in the world. Finally, some research that proves it. Sounds alot like my boss was probably part of the study-group. Glad it got posted on here.

I'm hoping someday to get me a double-wide in the northwoods away from all of them study-subjects and then I'll be happy.

Gene

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Challenged people having more challanged kids is nothing but job security for me! See it every day in lock up. Most of the time all you have to do is talk to a kids parents for 1/2 hour to know why he/she is the way they are.

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Very true...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! I've known several peoples who could actually be the poster-child for birth control.
Gene

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Half hour! When I worked on the psych ward I could get a read on people in about 1/2 a minute. Not to be judgemental or anything....

mm

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Fishermen turning into intellectuals, wow , this is starting to get scary!

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This may not be the place for this post but a good one Ron.
I agree with Northlander, most of the problems start with the problem parents, and not enough disapline.
To bag something that you don't understand,
is a sign of ignorance though.

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