Tell Me I’m Not Dumb

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self."
– Benjamin Franklin

The Volume 16, Number 4, 2005 Edition of the Scientific American Mind magazine had an interesting article that entitled Picture Imperfect.

Here’s a summary of the findings mentioned in the article.

  • Over their lifetimes, people base thousands of decisions on the internal pictures they hold of their own skills, knowledge, personality and moral character.

  • Individuals overrate themselves.

  • Other people can often foresee an individual’s outcomes better than that person can.

  • As a consequence of this tendency to overrating, individuals overpredict the likelihood of engaging in desirable behaviours and achieving favourable outcomes, furnishes excessively optimistic estimates of when he or she will complete future projects, and reaches judgements with too much confidence.

  • The correlation of how people expect to perform in the workplace (for complex tasks) and actual performance is 0.2. Virtually no correlation at all.

  • The reason for this is because people do not possess all the information required for accurate self analysis.

  • Incompetent persons suffer a double curse: their deficits cause them to make errors and also prevent them from recognising what makes their decisions erroneous and the choices of others superior. That is, they fail to show insight into their deficiencies.

Not exactly a positive, feel good article, eh? But, at least it made me think.

I am not as smart as I think I am. In fact, I may be a dumbass AND ignorant of that fact. Damn. That’s depressing.


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