Why Idiots Think They are Morally Superior and Smarter to You

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an example of cognitive bias in which people who are worst at a task show the most illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average.

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Kruger and Dunning noted a number of previous studies which tend to suggest that in skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” (as Charles Darwin put it).

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Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.

4chan for pseudointellectuals

Fascinating. How is it that the least competent assume they are the most competent?

Answer: their perspective is entirely relative to themselves, and they have made no attempt to overcome this and see the world from a quasi-objective view, the same one that science, history, philosophy et al can give to us — if we’re smart enough to perceive it.

Smart people are aware of how small they are.

Dumb people are unaware of how small a role they play in life, and so tend to overstate that role, because they’re aware of nothing beyond themselves.

Another entry affirms this:

A self-serving bias occurs when people attribute their successes to internal or personal factors but attribute their failures to situational factors beyond their control. The self-serving bias can be seen in the common human tendency to take credit for success but to deny responsibility for failure (Miller & Ross, 1975). It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way that is beneficial to their interests. Self-serving bias may be associated with the better-than-average effect (or Lake Wobegon effect), in which the individual is biased to believe that he or she typically performs better than the average person in areas important to their self esteem. For example, a majority of drivers think they drive better than the average driver (Kruger, 1999; Roese & Olson, 2007).

4chan for pseudointellectuals

Individuals base their self-esteem on something they think they do well; what it is (or how well they do it) is irrelevant. They need some reason to justify their existence and think themselves worthwhile.

It’s a form of moral competition. In a society that prized, say, competence over morality, this might be different.

The Downing effect describes the tendencies of people with below average intelligence quotients (IQs) to overestimate their intelligence, and of people with above average intelligence to underestimate their intelligence. The propensity to predictably misjudge one’s own intelligence was first noted by C. L. Downing who conducted the first cross cultural studies on perceived intelligence. His studies also evidenced that the ability to accurately estimate others’ intelligence was proportional to one’s own intelligence. This means the lower the IQ score of an individual, the less capably he or she can appreciate and accurately appraise others’ intelligence. The lower someone’s IQ, the more likely he is to rate himself as more intelligent than those around him. Conversely, people with a high IQ, while better at appraising others’ intelligence overall, are still likely to rate people of similar intelligence as themselves as having higher IQs. As the adage goes, ‘The more you know the more you know you don’t know’.

4chan for pseudointellectuals

This makes sense: dumber people have no idea what being smarter would be like, so cannot recognize it.

Their only ability is to tear it down by claiming their own knowledge is superior. ‘Everyone knows the sun revolves around the earth, you dummy!’

This might explain hipsters, who will call you ignorant if you don’t know all about the latest Deerhoof album — but will live in squalor, accomplishing nothing, and scorning those who choose to work hard toward intelligent or at least semi-competent lives.

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Your consistent ranking of dumber people as “they” is quite ironic considering the theme of this article, n’est pas? Luckily, I think your assessment of your own intelligence is right on, or at least close.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let me be fair, you did call smart people “they” as well. Sorry for the oversight.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I had an anal.

    It was goodly.

    I do not like most negroes.

    –Ibod Catooga (the ruler of Poop)

  4. Anonymous says:

    This point is quite true and quite obvious to those who are perceptive.
    An attempt to overcompensate, in one way or another for that which one lacks, is usually made in this and many other instances.
    In fact, I might perceive that the position stated here has been brought about by a deep frustration with the view-point of another person who has a differing perspective on an issue that you feel strongly about. Of course, if that is the case, then this is just a over-worded way of saying “You’re stupid! What you say doesn’t matter!”
    Judging from the title of your position here I will assume that you are debating the validity of the global warming theory. Certainly, there should more than enough scientific evidence for you to back your arguements and if there isn’t perhaps you should look into why?
    Coming out of such a debate and then pointing a big finger and accusing the opposite side of being stupid won’t help win people to your side. If you want to just jade people into being stubbornly entrenched on either side you’re on the right track but to polarize people on an issue and will take the cooperation of almost everyone to help solve is counter-productive and will only make matters worse and is what really lacks forethought and intelligence.
    Try logic and persausion rather than logic and division. Alienating people is really needless. The “Idiots” that you are frustrated with could become easy allies if a “Smart person” extended them an olive branch by which they could feel accepted and included.

  5. […] predict the outcomes of more than a single factor over more than a few days anyway. Thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, they have no idea they’re incompetent, so they pick theories that make them sound smart (to […]

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