A piece that still needs a lot of polish

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

15 Responses to A piece that still needs a lot of polish

  1. Pingback: A piece that needs a lot of polish | Surviving Yucatan

  2. Dianne Davis says:

    Were you thinking Ted Cruz but wrote Castro instead? And you give equivalence to republicans’ and democrats’ recent behavior. They are not equivalent. Otherwise, fine article. I want to read the final version.

    • yucalandia says:

      Exactly – I confused the Texas Castros with the Texas Cruz…

      To me, Harry, Nancy, et al seem to be more interested in letting the Republicans stew in their own juices – reinforcing the Republicans apparent efforts to self-destruct in future elections by contaminating a generation of voter’s minds against them. Republican leaders continue to deny that they lost the last elections due to failed ideologies, ideologies that are unacceptable to the bulk of the American people. Republicans basically are backing themselves into positions where they only win in gerrymandered districts, cooked to create a House of Representatives with 53% Republicans while they only got 43% of the popular vote.

      The House was constitutionally designed to represent the actual numbers of people, yet the supposedly “strict Constitutionalists” are the worst offenders at ignoring this Constitutional mandate – and the most adept at vote-rigging through gerrymandered districts – as proven by their actions, and proven by the actual make-up of the House, where 57% of US voters voted against Republicans – yet the Tea-Party led Republicans rigged the voting to get the opposite outcome.

      Overall, I would like Boehner and Nancy and Harry to set aside their partisanship, and do what is best for the country.

      House Republicans had over 70 opportunities to pass cuts in government spending this year, yet they refused, and instead substituted 43 votes against ACA/Obamacare. Cut the spending that is NOT legally mandated… Reduce the deficits… Both Republicans and Democrats voted for “general” sequestration budget cuts in principle, but their actions show that they don’t have either the courage or guts to turn their public rhetoric into significant deficit reduction. Neither the Republican dominated House nor the Democratic Senate had the courage or integrity to pass spending cuts.

      For the good of the country, they can all do better,

      THANKS… off to continue tweaking/polishing.

  3. Harvey Kempema says:

    I knew it ! A Liberal instructor that has been educated beyond his intelligence ! DAMM I do not like it when an American Citizen gives bad information to a foreign neighbor and to their students. It scares me that YOU PEOPLE on the teat of government are multiplying, and should be thinned.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Harvey,
      You have a vivid imagination – but your imaginings about me leads you into exposing who you really are. I usually think crude outbursts are meant to be funny, but you make your world-views pretty clear:
      …. “YOU PEOPLE on the teat of government are multiplying, and should be thinned. ” …

      It’s sad that your grasp of reality does not include the Constitution, the structure or responsibilities of the branches of government, and you sure don’t know who or what I am… *grin*

      e.g. Government teat? I started working at age 9… Fully financially emancipated at age 18. Graduated college with $10K in the bank due to working my way through school. I have run 3 businesses…. One of them created and maintained 75 good scientist’s jobs for 9 years.

      I worked and brought in roughly $33 million in sales, in addition to the times teaching.

      How much have you done for the economy?
      How many good jobs have you personally created? 😉

      By the way, why are you so angry with teachers?
      Most Americans can point with pride to how teachers have changed their lives, ~ showing real respect for those who made us who we are…. I guess that ALL the Tea Partiers really did all pull themselves by their bootstraps, with NO help at all from teachers, public roads, publicly funded electricity, public water….

      Yep, y’awl just dig your own wells, tote yer water in buckits, butcher yur own hawgs, never use ‘lectricity, an’ never leave yur propurties and never-ever use them public roadwayz fer nuthin…. 😉

      Why I imagine that yur home-schoolin’ led to you not knowin’ the branches of the US Government, and your home-schoolin’ leavin’ you without knowing about who in the government has the powers of appropriation?

      Me? I much honor the people who fought for freedom, and I am deeply grateful to those who worked decades of 70 hour weeks so I could have opportunities – opportunities for me to work 4 decades of 70 hr weeks – traveling the public roads and using the public airports to generate sales to create good jobs – along with enjoying ballgames at public stadiums built with public money. We really all do benefit from the past and present efforts of others – and we are better for it.

      Gratitude, honor, integrity, dignity, and humility have difficulty existing in the same heart with mean selfish petty small ideals – like your nasty wishes of “thinning the herd” of people who simply disagree with your beliefs.

  4. Harvey Kempema says:

    WOW, I want to be impressed as you must be special. Lots of people with educations and business savvy are involved in Politics, and some are not worth a Shit !. As an educator I was surprised, well not really, that you would try to belittle anyone with a comment in regards to an education. Well what can you expect from anyone who blames the TEA PARTY and G.W. BUSH (still) for the Republican’s stupidly allowing Obama to win.

    • yucalandia says:

      Make up whatever you want, … the facts (your written comment) still show:
      You attack others because you don’t even know what you are talking about: Please read about Constitutional Govt. Spending Powers.

      You publicly lie about others, bearing false witness,
      but are simultaneously blind to your lies – or are blinded by your lies – which ironically fits the point of the article: People who are incapable of knowing just how far they are from reality.

      That’s who Harvey Kempema is – a man who bears false witness, publicly telling lies about others, over and over.

      A man’s words reveal what he believes in and his actions reveal who he really is.

      Harvey Kempema: the self-proclaimed “educator” who is remembered for his credo:
      ~ “YOU PEOPLE on the teat of government are multiplying, and should be thinned. ” ~

      ugly, small thinking, from ….

    • yucalandia says:

      Has anyone else noticed that since about 2010, the people of the Far Right, seem completely unable to have a civilized ordinary dialogue on the internet, especially concerning government and governance. When they are shown facts that expose flaws in their ideologies, they almost all lose their ability to be rational.

      Tea Partiers have been especially notorious for rapidly devolving to childish name-calling. They cannot seem to stay on point and they almost always change the subject and drag in red herrings. When shown to be factually wrong, they revert to foul language and personal insults, and seem unable to address or accept any facts that expose their ignorance.

      The President never has been in charge of allocations or the budget: That constitutional responsibility belongs to the House Ways and Means Committee.

      Many people in the Center, normal ordinary Americans, quietly do the work of actually creating jobs.

      Harvey was very quick write lies about me, as if I were some supposed Commie Leftist at the “government teat”, but when Harvey found I was the owner of a small business that created 75 good jobs for 9 years, Harvey did not have the intellectual honesty to answer a simple question: How many jobs have you created?

      Lots of people on the Right go on and on about capitalism, and free markets, but they don’t back their talk by actually creating jobs.

      Tea Party ideologues claim to be “grass roots” organizations, supposedly upwelling from the people, while their movement was actually created by a few corrupt billionaires, and the Tea Partiers continue to get their money from powerful billionaire oligarchs. Those same billionaire oligarchs then write the Tea Party scripts, which the Tea Partier foot soldiers brandish as swords. …. Being bought and paid for to read the scripts of a small group of billionaires explains why ordinary Tea Partiers cannot maintain rational dialogues with even people in the Center – because the scripted messages are little more than pithy sound-bites.

      Harvey, go back to the Constitution. Support free and fair elections – Work to eliminate the gerrymandering (vote rigging) of Tea Partiers and other Republicans that have violated the Constitutional intent of the Founding Fathers that House of Representative voter “representation” numbers actually represent the actual distribution of the population.

      These essential intellectual corruptions of the Far Right are proven by decades of vote rigging that has most recently gotten them 53% of the House seats, while they only got 43% of the American’s votes.

      Did anybody else note that Harvey did not have the intellectual integrity to respond to this fact?

      Corrupt money from corrupt billionaires has bought and paid for 3 decades of legislation and regulatory “reforms” that artificially skew the economy of America to fill their pockets, through 40:1 margin borrowing, naked short selling, credit default swaps, and other corrupt and risky practices that cost the rest of us $7 TRILLION…. and now those same corrupt billionaires have bought and paid for a movement of very vocal Tea Partiers and their politician leaders who have shut down the government… all to give the billionaires efforts a populist veneer and to create crowds that howl support for their corrupt practices – marching under the banners of freedom and liberty.

      No wonder ordinary people of the Far Right cannot rationally discuss things, because they are only reading the scripts of their hidden masters – mouthing platitudes – without really knowing the fact behind what they believe-in or why. When the discussion moves away from their scripts, and the facts expose their flaws, they are left only with personal insults, name-calling, and childish retorts as replies to reasonable questions.

    • Deb Shepherd says:

      I usually think it is not wise to jump in between 2 pit bulls fighting..however Mr. Kempema, I have to ask what your opinion is of the tea-party folks/republicans attacking teachers pensions, salaries and cutting educators at all levels? The only way out of the quicksand we seem stuck in is education and the US is falling behind..I may be wrong, but was assuming you live in Q Roo on your union provided teacher’s pension, which must sting a bit every time you cash your monthly check.
      Your comment “Republican’s stupidly allowing Obama to win,” rings hollow..he won by 5 million votes, and 1.4 million more democrats voted in congressional elections than republicans.

      Republicans ONLY path to the White House is voter suppression and gerrymandering of districts + unlimited super secret money by corporations buying elections. Facts matter..Is that the America we are now? Thomas Jefferson and pals knew what they were talking about..beware of anyone wrapped in a flag and carrying a bible..

  5. Judith Simon says:

    I agree with Dianne that not distinguishing between Democrats and Republicans in Congress is both unclear and gives an inaccurate picture of what is actually going on in the US. After all, it was Republicans who vowed to defeat anything that Obama does no matter if it is harmful to the country and its people. Democrats have never taken that vow; in fact, they supported the last Republican administration all too much.

    Unfortunately too many Democrats and liberals have fallen under the Republican deficit reduction spell, including Yucalandia. Deficit reduction is the last thing that Congress should be doing – it will hurl us deeper and deeper into joblessness and outright depression. What we need now is just the opposite – a new WPA, a spending program to create massive numbers of jobs in much needed fields. Just re-hiring the millions of teachers, nurses, government workers, etc. would make a huge difference. What a difference it would make to our crumbling infrastructure if out-of-work construction workers were hired to repair it, to our environment if we created thousands of green jobs. In our consumer driven economy, those new workers would generate a healthy economy. Once we have a robust economy we can consider deficit reductions, not before. The US is slowly becoming a third world country in all but the military. Putting people back to work could turn that around. FDR did it for 8.5 million Americans; surely now, in the richest country ever on earth, we can do the same.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Judith,
      Did FDR’s programs really rebuild the US economy?

      Did FDR’s programs actually work, and put 8.5 million Americans back to productive work to make an economic recovery?

      Did you ever know anyone, personally, of the “8.5 million Americans” “FDR did it for“?

      If you follow the facts of the 1930’s, FDRs programs did not bring us out of the Depression. My grandfathers worked in various of FDR’s supposedly nation-rebuilding programs, along with older friends, and great-uncles. Their first-hand stories would make your hair stand on end.

      Digging ditches one day – using that dirt to fill the previous day’s ditch.

      It took a big crew of men and machines a whole year to level a football field (in flat flat flat Illinois) and an additional year to make a cinder track in my hometown.

      Do you know what ” WPA ” stood for? ” We Piddle Around

      When we use facts instead of nostalgia: Big government “make worK” projects did not work in the 1930’s, nor in the 1960’s, nor now.

      We climbed out of the Great Depression by rebuilding the wreckage of WW2 – as the ONLY standing industrial economy in the world.

      The Japanese war machine and Nazi war machine left both Asia and Europe ankle deep in rubble, with economies and industrial capacities in tatters. The USA benefitted from a ruined industrialized world, manufacturing and selling the world things with basically ZERO competition for almost 20 years.

      The Japanese economy did not recover until the mid-1960’s.

      The German economy did not recover until the mid-1960’s.

      The British economy did not recover until the mid-1960’s.

      It is NO coincidence that the USA had one of the greatest economic and manufacturing runs in history, as we had the field all to ourselves for 17 solid years.

      Want to fix the US economy: Instead, stop spending $800 billion taxpayer dollars per year on Military spending.

      Stop spending $860 billion taxpayer dollars per year on Corporate welfare and tax-breaks for the wealthy.

      There is NO rational reason to have a system that charges Middle Class workers 58% higher taxes than the wealthy. (27% for us vs 14.7% tax rates for the wealthy)

      Fun and easy… Our military is in 75% of the world’s countries: a HIGHER percentage than ANY country in history.

      We drain our Treasury, cut worker’s wages, cut worker’s benefits, all to fund the biggest group of the wealthiest in history – who did NOT actually earn their wealth – since the wealthy now take 93% of business profits: over 2X times higher rates of awarding themselves the profits…

      We can do it. It just takes enough people to speak out.
      and Vote Out
      the current Congressmen and Senators who keep giving big business and the wealthy ever larger special breaks and special payments.

  6. Harvey Kempema says:

    Socialism /Communism is also alive and well in Cuba. I get the feeling that you must be a Retired Government employee or someone that has been heavily dependent on some form of government feeding Trough, not someone that has run a REAL business..

  7. yucatecha says:

    Hi Steve, regarding the piece polishing, I think you buried your lede:

    “We really are experiencing the revenge of the “C” students…

    Then you can explain Dunning and Kruger. And maybe parse out a few things that have allowed mediocrity to rise to the top in the US. .

    I’d shorten the piece and probably skip references to Fremdscham. Do that in another piece.

    I’d not bother to respond to ad homs such as those by that Harvey account. If he’s a real person, he’s probably so immersed in Fox News or 4chan or Breitbart and whatnot as to be unreachable.. Why feed the troll? Oh, have you seen “The Brainwashing of My Dad?” Excellent doc.


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