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Psych Study Confirms: Low-Information People Don't Know They're Low Information

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RUSH:  The Dunning-Kruger effect.  Why low-information people do not know that they are low information.  Or another way to say it:  Why the incompetent don't know that they're incompetent.  The Dunning-Kruger effect.  I have a story here. Dr. Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of something called the PsyBlog, P-s-y, Blog. 

He says: "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

That quote comes from the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Psychological research has now shown he was right.

Let me run through that again.  "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid --" You know what that means, don't you?  It means somebody that thinks they're dead right all the time, closed-minded and not open to other ideas and therefore is an idiot. Whereas those with any imagination and understanding, who ought to feel like they're the smartest people around, are actually filled with doubt and indecision.  And he says everything's reversed here.  The stupid think they're the smart ones, and the smart ones don't know they're smart.  That's what Bertrand Russell said. 

Now, there are exceptions to this.  I, for example, am one who feels certainty, and I ain't dumb.  But Bertrand Russell thinks that people who feel certainty are stupid.  Well, I feel certainty, but I'm not dumb.  Snerdley feels certainty, and he's not dumb.  So this doesn't work all the time.  But the gist of this is that everybody that thinks they've got all the answers is really the idiot and doesn't know it, and the people who are more capable of acquiring the truth don't have any confidence.  They don't think they can. 

"The Dunning-Kruger effect is the finding that the poorest performers are the least aware of their own incompetence. The effect has been: '… replicated among undergraduates completing a classroom exam, medical students assessing their interviewing skills, clerks evaluating their performance, and medical lab technicians evaluating their on-the-job expertise."

That's what was studied.  Now, the reason why the incompetent don't know that they're incompetent is because they do not learn from their mistakes.  Therefore, it would follow, the low information don't know that they're low information 'cause they don't know they're low information.  People that don't know anything don't know anything, and they don't know that they don't know anything because they don't know.  Unlike the ugly, who definitely know who they are.  But that is a different discussion, usually held in concert with feminism. 

So if we take this, why the incompetent don't know they're incompetent and transpose it to the low information, we get to the proposed solution.  What is the solution for being incompetent or the solution for being low information?  Well, the psychs say that the solution is, "the incompetent should be directly told that they're incompetent."  And low-information people should be told that they're low information.  Well, let the people know that they're wrong. 

Unfortunately, the problem is, incompetent low-information people have been getting that kind of feedback for years, and they didn't listen to it, or they didn't notice it.  Now, here is an example.  How about people who fail exams, they mess up at work, they irritate other people, and they still don't know that they're incompetent.  The guy never gets a promotion.  The guy who's always irritated. It's always somebody else's fault. It's never the fault of the incompetent, in the incompetent's minds. 

Socrates even once said, "The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing."

Well, that's not the low-information voter, because the low-information voter doesn't know he doesn't know anything.  That's why I know when I'm talking about low-information voters on this show, not one of them thinks I'm talking about him or her. 

"But even this can go too far.  It turns out that people with real talent --" this is the real rub of it here "-- tend to underestimate just how good they are. The root of this bias is that clever people tend to assume other people find things as easy." Talented people think everybody else is.  Accomplished people think everybody else is.  Talented people think, "Hey, I can do it, everybody else can do it."  Talented people think it isn't that big a deal to be talented.  Talented, competent people, intelligent people, knowledgeable people, don't think it's anything special 'cause everybody can do it, they think. 

Therefore, they don't allow themselves to think positively about themselves because they don't think what they can do is special.  And so these guys think that we are suffering from a major, major inversion.  Low-information people tend to overestimate their level of information.  They fail to recognize how other people know much more than they do.  They fail to recognize just how little they know, even when they're confronted with it.  And, on the other hand, the real talented people, the real accomplished people, oftentimes don't think it's any big deal because they think everybody can do or is as good as they are. 

Does anybody come to mind describing any of this?  Anybody spring to mind immediately when describing somebody who's constantly wrong but will never believe it, doesn't know it, and thinks so highly of themselves that they could never, ever deal with the truth?  (interruption)  Very good.  Snerdley, "It sounds like sounds like our president."  You can't tell him anything.  He doesn't know how little he knows, 'cause he doesn't know he doesn't know anything.  He doesn't know that what he knows is wrong.  Joe Biden hasn't been right in 40 years in Washington, DC, and doesn't know it. 

And, by the way, Obama, who thinks he's very talented, he has a knack to it, he told Harry Reid.  "It's a gift, Harry."  Obama's one of these guys who thinks he's greater than anybody else and nobody can do what he does.  It's just an interesting little bit of analysis here, folks, 'cause the low-information voter, in many people's minds, is the key to turning the country around.  And they may be, but it may be a lost cause to try to turn 'em into high information.  The key may be getting around them somehow.  

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