Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Psychology of Ignorance


Some people are really "Slow." I almost feel bad pointing out obvious problems that seem symptomatic of their world view. On the other hand, I feel compelled to help these less fortunate people bare the burden of their own stupidity.

That being said, it occurred to me that with people as slow as the ones I typically deal with, often, humor and understanding go a lot further than simply trying to force them to understand. It astounds me how a person can speak on a subject of which they have absolutely ZERO understanding, and yet, be so utterly confident and self assured. Part of this phenomenon, of which I have recently become aware, can be attributed to what is known in the psychology field as the "Dunning-Kruger Effect." The Dunning-Kruger Effect occurs when a person, possibly a person with an insecure ego, will fain knowledge of a complex subject, whereas a person who ACTUALLY knows the subject tends to be humble and claim not to know very much about said subject.

With that in mind, I asked myself what type of psychological mindset would a person need to exhibit the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It occurred to me that they must be suffering some sort of personal crisis, or boredom, to which they are trying to compensate for. Possibly, they have not achieved any noticeable victories in their own area of expertise, and consequently, must reach out into other areas of investigation to make up for their own personal short-comings.

Granted, the idea of evolution, anthropology, mathematics, or any other area of science or logic can be daunting for an inhibited individual who has little more than an associates degree earned from a local community college. However, the majority of individuals posses the basic rule of simply claiming ignorance where it indeed exists. These people have a strong ego, and are willing to suffer the momentary humiliation associated with not knowing the answer to a given question. The pathology of a person suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect is the opposite. They will claim extraordinary knowledge of extremely complex subjects, to the point of being a pathological lier.

Now, I don't believe that the condition is terminal. There is still hope for people who have this unfortunate condition.

3 comments:

annie said...

Hey Steve,
Be careful when you start out by calling other people stupid and then you yourself make grammatical errors like the one in your first sentence. See if you can find it. Of course making grammatical errors doesn't make you stupid, but it does detract from your credibility.

SteveMudSkipper said...

OH! Zing!
You found a grammatical error!

Ceep Up the Gud work Annie!

annie said...

tanks.