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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Dunning-Kruger Effect on Barack Obama?


Over at PJMedia Rand Simberg posted a piece called The Asymmetry of Ideology.  It’s interesting and worth the read but one of the things that really caught my attention is his mention of something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Apparently it’s well known, but I never heard of it before.  

In a nutshell, Kruger and Dunning “proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:  tend to overestimate their own level of skill; fail to recognize genuine skill in others; (and) fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy".  They will however "recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve".

I looked it up at Wikipedia and a couple aspects are really interesting.  First of all, this effect seems to be an American thing.  Apparently the Chinese don’t suffer from it.  Interesting, no?  Second, this effect was isolated in studies conducted in the late 1990’s among American college students.  I wonder whether the Dunning Kruger Effect is simply the result of a generation of ‘self-esteem’ foolishness that we’ve been instilling in people?  If you continually tell people – no matter how poorly they’re doing – that they are doing well, isn’t it likely the less self-aware among them (or the more stupid) will be more apt to believe you?  Hey, if everybody gets a trophy for playing soccer, the kid that doesn’t know how bad he sucks at soccer may think he’s doing just fine.

I wonder if this explains Barack Obama’s otherwise inexplicable confidence in his own competence?  It’s been a mystery to me.  I can understand that he thinks he’s right and other people are wrong.  I can even understand he may believe that opposition to his righteousness is the main reason for everything that’s wrong with our political and economic scenes.  I happen to disagree on both counts but they are understandable positions.  What I can’t understand is Obama’s seeming sincere belief that he’s really doing great as President of the United States when all available evidence shows he is screwing the pooch.

 

8 comments:

Glenn Knight said...

Hobbes, yes, that Hobbes, Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (1588-1679), author of and other works, noticed a similar effect many years ago. "For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe thter be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other mens at a distance."

Glenn Knight said...

I was referring to his book Leviathan, and I mean to italicize the title with HTML tags, but I messed up the tag.

The passage should read, "author of Leviathan and other works,"

Glenn Knight said...

I was referring to his book Leviathan, and I mean to italicize the title with HTML tags, but I messed up the tag.

The passage should read, "author of Leviathan and other works,"

Glenn Knight said...

And I apologize for entering that last comment twice.

Glenn Knight said...

I don't want to get into a comparison of Barack Obama with George W. Bush. Both men faced challenges as president which were not among the things they anticipated when they ran for office, and both men have been widely regarded as failures.

I, personally, don't see Obama as a failure. One of the problems here is to what standard should a president be held. The economy went into the tank in 2008, and both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama pumped a lot of money into it. I tend to believe that the outcome would have been much worse without the various stimulus efforts, but I think a lot of people don't get how much worse things could have been.

In particular, a number of analysts, including David Brooks of the New York Times, opine that a recovery from the kind of financial disaster we faced in 2008 could easily take ten years. That is, it could be 2018 before unemployment is back down to 6% or below. Lots of people don't want to believe that, so they think that having 8.3% unemployment now is just unacceptable.

Mind you, these are the same people who want to slash government spending and who seem to have a problem with Keynsian economics. I don't believe that Mitt Romney will seriously try to balance the budget, but if he did, we'd be looking at 8 and 9% unemployment rates into the mid-2020s.

Robohobo said...

"What I can’t understand is Obama’s seeming sincere belief that he’s really doing great as President of the United States when all available evidence shows he is screwing the pooch."

I wish, I really do that conservatives and Conservatives and Libertarians, etc. would wake up and smell the slime.

Cease and desist with the failure of BHO. He is succeeding just like he said he would - fundamental change is happening as he and his cabal intend. Problem is no one asked, to what?

Ya'll thought he said:

"Hope & Change"

He said:

"Rope & Chains"

Wear them well.

OR.....

Throw them off and the yoke of the small 'c' and big 'C' commie oppressor.

Be free men first.

Robohobo said...

"What I can’t understand is Obama’s seeming sincere belief that he’s really doing great as President of the United States when all available evidence shows he is screwing the pooch."

I wish, I really do that conservatives and Conservatives and Libertarians, etc. would wake up and smell the slime.

Cease and desist with the failure of BHO. He is succeeding just like he said he would - fundamental change is happening as he and his cabal intend. Problem is no one asked, to what?

Ya'll thought he said:

"Hope & Change"

He said:

"Rope & Chains"

Wear them well.

OR.....

Throw them off and the yoke of the small 'c' and big 'C' commie oppressor.

Be free men first.

Anonymous said...

not too fond of statistics.