October 7, 2013
Please allow me to preface these ramblings to note several other friends in the USA have noticed the same things, and ironically were writing much shorter pithy-er bits on the same topic. The short version offered by one friend: “The madness continues among the (politicians). … One poll shows 33% of respondents blaming the Democrats and 17% holding both parties responsible, thereby establishing that that 50% of the population is all get out stupid.” ??
Why are the leaders in Washington allowing a small group of ideologues to hold the greatest country in the world, hostage?
What happened to “doing your job”? They’ve had a full 365 days to pass a budget…
What happened to setting aside personal ideologies, to instead try to do what is best for the country?
Fremdscham and the Dunning Kruger Effect: (Why should we care?)
Feeling embarrassed for something that someone else did, but… fremdscham only occurs when someone who should feel embarrassed for themselves simply is not, and you start feeling embarrassment in their place.
Why bring this up? We had a family party yesterday for my 83 year old mother in law’s birthday, and a few of them were interested in just why the American politicians seem bent on intentionally damaging the US economy – and dragging the rest of us down with them.
Fremdscham reared its ugly head – piercing the veil of gemutlichheit….
This led me to thinking about … why?….
Which led to me trying to describe that we have a unique constellation of politicians leading the charge(s) right now. As I considered the “leadership” of Harry, Boehner, Nancy, yet another long-winded Castro-like Cruz, and the Tea Partiers, I was reminded of a certain class of students that regularly appeared in the university chemistry classes I taught and took. As a former teacher, I was reminded of how consistently undergraduate students mis-estimated their understanding of a subject, as compared to their actual exam performances. The Dunning Kruger Effect sprung to mind – as the fellows who finally got research results that confirmed what many teachers and profs have known for years.
In Dunning and Kruger’s classic 1990’s experiments, students were polled as they walked out of an exam, and asked to rate their performance for the class and the exam they had just completed. Specifically, the questions covered how well they thought they had mastered the course material, and asked them to predict their score on the test.
Dunning and Kruger’s Results? The students with the worst scores made the greatest over estimations of their own performance, while the best students consistently slightly underestimated their scores
Conclusions: Student’s in the lowest 25%’ile estimated (imagined) that they were in the 60’th percentile, and in general, the lower ranking students tended to overestimate themselves by about 30%.
Why babble on about fremdscham and the Dunning Kruger effect?
Consider how I felt trying to explain to Mexicans why Harry, Boehner, Nancy, Castro, and the Tea Partiers have had an entire year to work on their (Congress’) most important responsibilities of deciding how to spend US taxpayer money. I was overcome with fremdscham, as our American leaders have acted as badly as third grade boys squabbling over a plate of cookies.
We really are experiencing the revenge of the “C” students… Politicians who pose as leaders, imagining that they know better, while in reality, they ignore the rational options available to them and repeatedly parrot their overly-simple ideological catch phrases – as if these mantras are either rational or reasonable.
What should we expect to happen when ideologically-driven “C” students take the reins, supported by a very vocal group of Tea Party voters who substitute mantras like “that’s your truth” and “those are your facts” for dialogue and rational fact-based approaches?
Dunning and Kruger also found some interesting parallel-corollary results to the overestimation of the the C and D students on exams:
“Participants taking tests in their ability -to think logically, – to write grammatically, and – to spot funny jokes (also) tend to overestimate their percentile ranking relative to their peers by some 40 to 50 points, thinking they are outperforming a majority of their peers when, in fact, they are the ones being outperformed.”
Do any Washington actors come to mind?
Continuing Dunning and Kruger’s results:
“This pattern also emerges in more real-world settings: among – debate teams taking part in a college tournament, and for – hunters quizzed about their knowledge of firearms just before the start of hunting season (Dick Cheney?); – among medical residents (physician/doctors) evaluating their patient-interviewing skills; – and among medical lab technicians assessing their knowledge of medical terminology and everyday problem-solving ability in the lab.”
What does the future hold?
When considering the future, it can be helpful to go back to the facts. Go back to Dunning and Kruger’s inherent “double curse” for the “C” and “D” students. The low performers fail to grasp their own incompetence ~ because they are so incompetent. ~ This self-blindness not only fits the current crop of leaders we elected, including a small group of Tea Party leaders who are holding the government hostage, including all ideologues from completely “safe” gerrymandered districts, but it explains the last decades of descent into inane partisan nastiness since Newt shut down the government, and since pit bulls and spin-meisters like Rahm Emmanual, Roger Ayles, Carver, and Lee Atwater took control of the agendas, substituting their personal ideologies for previous efforts to at least try to do what is best for the country.
What do Dunning and Kruger’s research results predict for the future?
Realize that before change can happen, the bottom of the barrel folks would have to first distinguish competence … from incompetence ~ which Dunning and Kruger’s results show just does not happen naturally. ~ The basic overestimation-driven thinking of the low performers, consistently blinds them to reality. (Try taking part in typical internet forum discussions, by injecting objective facts – and see the reactions from common Americans…) As a result, Dunning and Kruger found that that these people get stuck in vicious cycles ~ exactly fitting what we are seeing in Washington and in many state houses – and in Big Media analyses of what is actually going on, and why. Consider:
“The skills needed to produce logically sound arguments, for instance, are the same skills that are necessary to recognize when a logically sound argument has been made. Thus, if people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else’s, are right or wrong.
They cannot recognize their responses as mistaken, or other people’s responses as superior to their own.”
Try explaining this in weak Spanish, to your Mexican relatives, briefly and succinctly, at a party. Fortunately, they “got” it…
Any irony there? Why do Mexicans in far-off Yucatan understand things that Americans and the US Press commentators cannot seem to grasp?
and yes, I am feeling a bit less fremdscham after writing this….
Time to change our votes in the next elections?
Vote for Manning?
Vote for Elway (who had the insight to choose Manning)?
* * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry
Read on MacDuff