Sunday, January 20, 2019

Stupid People Don't Know They Are Stupid

"Ignorance is bliss." 

We have always heard this quote and accepted it as being a fundamental truth, but it really isn't. 

A study was done that changed the face of what we know as being perceived intelligence verses Actual intelligence. This isn't related to IQ, or at least not related to how IQ is measured in the world of academia.  The study is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This intensive study was not done with only college graduates or, "educated" people, it was a wide spectrum analysis of how people either underestimate or overestimate their abilities. 

In fact, most people believe just because they went to college and earned a degree in something, that it immediately deems them as an "expert" in 'said' field. When in reality, we all know that the degree of choice is only partially earned by the subject of one's interests.  
Example: If I were to get a degree in sociology, the majority of the classes required in my first 2 years would be math, science, government, literature, etc... 
Those topics have little to nothing to do with the degree of choice, i.e. Sociology. 

I could essentially blow past, intellectually speaking, 90% of Sociology majors just by voraciously reading books on that specific topic that have been done by the world's leading researchers who have spent decades studying sociological studies and observing family dynamics in controlled settings. 
Ironically enough, most of the researchers who have won awards for this research probably do not have a degree in 'said' field. They may hold a degree in Environmental Studies or Biology or Psychology. They may even be law enforcement persons or intelligence officers with a branch of the government. 

Back to the study. 

"Stupid people don't know they are stupid." 

We've all been there. I will relate a personal situation that happens frequently to me and one that has caused me to question my reality and whether or not I am meant to even socialize with certain people.  I'm the first to admit that I was a terrible student, slow to read, slow to comprehend, and socially awkward in pre-adolescent years. There are reasons for this, but those reasons were not seen by the school administration back then. What changed? I knew I wasn't smart. I knew I needed to play catch up if I were ever to succeed at anything in life. I felt inadequate in almost every academic endeavor or interpersonal relationship with the outside world. 

I knew I was stupid. Here is the paradox of the Dunning-Kruger Effect results: Intelligent people often underestimate their intelligence and therefore strive to become more intelligent by any means necessary. People with low intelligence do not feel they have low intelligence and therefore they are content to remain as they are.... stupid and overly positive about their "smarts." Ah ha! There you have it folks... "ignorance is bliss."  It's false happiness because that sense of well-being and contentment comes from an inflated sense that they are not lacking information, intelligence, or skill. 

Do you ever have this happen... 
You are in a meeting at work and you begin witnessing a discussion on some issue or problem. Within meta-seconds the correct solutions begin flooding your brain like a super highway of data. These solutions your brain has just generated seem so simple, logical, and obvious to you. 

So... You remain quiet because you ASSUME that these simple and effective solutions have obviously been brought to the table before and were deemed unfit. Or you may think, "maybe I don't have all the details of this problem and so I'm being ridiculous for assuming my brain somehow has the answer within seconds." 

There is the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action. You devalued your brains super conductive data stream of solutions because you are downgrading your own intelligence because it should be this obvious to everyone and if they aren't doing 'said' solution, then they must know better or more information than I do. The problem is... Stupid doesn't know it's stupid. They haven't thought of those solutions. They haven't thought of anything, but they are pretty certain that only their answer to the problem is "expert level."   

So... After a year of sitting in on meetings hearing really benign problems being discussed at length, and seeing that there are no results, no forward movement, and in some cases there is a devolving of the situation- You finally decide to speak up.  You may say, "I'm sorry to interrupt, and I know I'm not an expert at this, but have you thought about such n' such as a way to solve this problem." 

You may get some blank stares, you may get some half tilted heads, and then you will invariably be ignored as though you offered nothing in the way of a solution. When in fact, you offered THE solution but it buzzed right over their net of comprehension and they just go back to talking to each other.  

The most frustrating thing is when they come back two weeks later and present your solution as their own and all the other low functioning stupid people pat them on the back and feel good about themselves. All the while, you have been sitting there saying the exact same thing for months and you might as well have been talking to the paint on the walls. 

I'm sorry to say this but I can't think of anything that causes me more grief than this scenario. Not because my ego wants to have validation, but because of the time wasted week to week discussing something that wasn't a big deal to begin with.  Don't take my word for it...This is what Cornell University summarized regarding Dunning-Kruger Effect's Causes: 

Incompetence and Confidence

The most incompetent people I've ever known(some of whom I am working around these days) are brimming with an aura of confidence. They are usually middle management people who love to micro-manage every single person under them and are beholden to the idea that they are experts in everyone's field no matter how much experience someone else has.  They may know nothing about the thing you do, but they will use their "feeling" about what you do as being the judge and jury and executioner of your work.  You could have 20 years experience in something but you could be brought to your knees in humble pie within seconds of this incompetent person's criticism of your work. You are intelligent, therefore you underestimate your intelligence and eat humble pie or angry pie regularly. These idiots with name tags and larger pensions that are running the middle management "show" are also not inclined to like you. They will more often than not, promote the other idiots with name tags instead of you. Why is that? 

This next part of the study is fascinating... 

When an intelligent person begins showing their intelligence to someone stupid, the stupid or "cognitively incompetent" person shuts down. They actually don't hear you! They hear complex sounds and words coming out of your mouth but they can't "run the program" anymore. It's like trying to use a PS4 game disc inside of a PS2. It can't read the data. The format isn't compatible. It simply will not "read the disc." 

And now for.... 

This particular part of the study appealed to me greatly because I am literally paid to be funny, write funny shows and scripts, and come up with new material weekly that will entertain a wide spectrum of people from almost all levels of society. You guessed it, I'm in "family entertainment television." 

I have to navigate the mine fields of religious differences, gender defenders, academic quackademics, social variances in families, language barriers, cognitive differences in children of every age and background, and all the while remain relevant, funny, and clean. Try it sometime. It is like diffusing a bomb weekly and hoping that you remember what wires to keep and which ones can be cut without exploding your reputation and career in one badly written comedy bit or slip of the tongue. 
I envy those entertainers who had their peak before the time period of "everyone is offended and wants to watch you burn." 
Not fun. Challenging, yes. Fun = No. 

Knowledge of all things in your world is power of choice. You can choose what to educate people about or you can remain quiet because you are surrounded by what Dunning-Kruger claimed as being "stupid people." Stupid people have no interest in learning. If the word 'stupid' is a trigger word for you, then I ask that you calm down for a moment and re-read this blog. When I say "stupid people," I am speaking of willfully ignorant people who are 100% certain they are not ignorant. 

I'll end with a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect on a terribly out of control situation that will have you questioning why nobody saw it coming... 

Bill MacFarland, CEO of Fyre Festival and now high stakes criminal who is steeped in law suits and jail time, was one of these incompetent stupid people brimming with self-confidence. He is also a sociopath but that is a different blog all together. Really smart people bought into this guy's fraud. If you don't remember who his is, there's a HULU documentary or Netflix documentary regarding his decent into nail biting stupidity.  Look them up.  He created a music festival on an island in the Bahamas, sold the tickets for upwards of 200k each and didn't deliver anything. No music. No festival. Just hundreds upon hundreds of people stranded for days and weeks on a remote island with no food, no toilets, and water soaked FEMA tents and mattresses.  Bill MacFarland marketed this idea to really smart people who ran REALLY clever marketing companies and he began to sell something that actually didn't exist. He went on major news networks, got major people to sign their name to it, and he didn't have an island, musical acts, nothing... He didn't even have the money. It was fraud at the highest level all the way through. How did nobody see this coming?  

Well... A few people did. The most intelligent people started questioning what they were seeing and where the money was coming from. They were not heard, not listened to by anyone, and when they proposed such a preposterous claim of "this guy is totally full of shit," they were shut down and laughed at in the media. When you watch the interviews of these people who were lambasted for speaking their intuitive, logical, and experience based theory of why Bill MacFarland was 'full of shit," they kept doubting themselves but felt that even if their assessment and character deformation was inaccurate, they would feel better knowing that they said something rather than not say something. 

Turns out they were right, and it was even worse than what they had suspiciously intuited.  Did they get the credit they deserved for "knowing all along?" Hell no. 
The stupid people kept being stupid and acted shocked and dismayed about how nobody spoke up to take this guy down early on. People did speak up. Intelligent people spoke up but they were not heard. In other words, again... "cannot read disc." 

Why did anyone believe this sociopathic idiot Bill MacFarland? Confidence. 
In Dunning-Kruger's study, they found that these over inflated stupid confident people could convince a huge percentage of people that they were not only smart, but possibly a genius. This guy, MacFarland, had many failed attempts at his "enterprises" for several years. None of his ideas were even real things on their own merit. Example: Magnisus Black Credit Card.  This guy created a credit card for millennials who wanted to live in the social media "we are somebody" lifestyle. The credit card wasn't a real credit card. It was a piece of plastic with a magnetic strip that you could effectively copy your bank card magnetic strip onto the back of and use. You were still poor and living in your family's basement with your 200 bucks in the bank, but you could have the "appearance" of having a Black Elite Card so you wouldn't essentially be "embarrassed" with the "cool kids."  This idiot, MacFarland, was on every single news program and economic analysis show on TV promoting this stupid fake credit card. He was so gregarious and confident in his pitch that people were like, "look at this guy... he's like another Elon Musk!"   

WHAT THE F******!  Yeah. This idiot sociopath stupid person, Bill MacFarland, was compared to someone who created Tesla Motors and SpaceX. This guy created a fake credit card and a fake festival. And now he's in REAL jail. Good riddance. Bye bye stupid person! One down, 2 billion more to go! 

Fact is... Incompetent people act confident. So how can you tell the difference between real confidence and stupid people confidence? The devil is in the details. 

Stupid people do not listen to anything that is different from what other stupid people say. Hence why the epidemic of "fake news" and "click bait" fake stories hit an all time high on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Stupid people believe other stupid people therefore they share the shit out of their posts on social media.  All of a sudden you'll be hearing about some trending story that you know is fake, but you have to look at because how could it be that 1.7 million people have "liked it?" 

Well... they probably didn't even read it or bother to look any further than the headline. One of their stupid people friends shared it and then they did and then another idiot shared it and nobody questioned who wrote it, is it actually true, nor is anyone considering the aftermath of disinformation spreading that makes millions of people angry.... and stupid people make stupid impulsive decisions that result in a tidal wave of more stupid. We all are choking on the salty foam of stupid people's disasters. We have been for eons. 

If you engage in trying to educate a stupid person, remember that they do not think they are stupid. Therefore, you must appeal to that stupid facet of them by saying in a stupid shallow way, "did you hear such n' such? I thought you would love to know about it because you are so smart about these things..."   Of course you are lying to them, but it's for a good cause. You have cracked open the door of their brain just a fraction of an inch by appealing to their ego and they might actually try and learn something for a change. A little bit at a time we could make a difference in dispelling disinfo and replacing it with actual truths. I know it's hard to not lecture these idiots with the what's what of facts and research about your solution, or idea, or knowledge of something. After all, you know that you learned this information, so therefore why couldn't someone else learn it? 

If you are intelligent, you know that you got that way by learning something you didn't know and by asking questions about something that peaked your curiosity. You always know that you might be wrong about it, or that maybe you could learn more about it that would change your opinions, but you...if you are intelligent... will preface with that statement. "I may be wrong, but from what I have researched it looks like such and such may be such and such."  

Stupid people don't know they are stupid so they will never preface anything with, "I could be wrong about this" or "I don't know a lot about this, but from what I have researched in the last day..." That doesn't happen. These are the "feelings are facts" people.  

Going forward in your day to day life... if you find yourself clinching your jaw and wanting to go punch trees, you are probably surrounded by the Dunning-Kruger Effect. If everyone seems to be having a great time interacting, and you feel like you've missed something in the conversation that has created this friendly insider type vibe... you haven't. They are ignorant and incompetent and they are A-OKAY with other people who are as well. You are the outsider smarty pants. The disc won't read, the program won't run, so don't bother trying to retrofit and downgrade your good sense in order to have these people as friends. It's not worth it. 

Do not waste your ideas and energy trying to show them your worth, your enthusiasm for problem solving, or your ideas for streamlining something that desperately needs re-evaluation. 
The quote, "pearls cast out before swine," applies here. Do not give your best to people who cannot "run the program." You will slowly lose your mind doing this. Trust me, I know. 

I urge everyone to explore the Dunning-Kruger Effect in your life. Remember, it's not always what it seems. Confidence isn't always Competence, and Stupid Doesn't Know It Is Stupid. 

Live long and prosper
Written by Melodee Lenz 
To find out more about the Dunning-Kruger Effect: