Monday, September 12, 2011

A Fact is a Fact - Depending on the Definition of "is".

A Fact is a Fact - Depending on the Definition of "is".

Chris Lee of ars technica writes, Why my fellow physicists think they know everything (and why they're wrong).
"I am focusing on physicists and engineers but, in fact, anyone can fall victim to this belief in their own expertise. Research shows that the less expert we are in some field, the more certain we are that our opinions and predictions are correct. The cynical view of this is that we are all stupid and don't hesitate to exhibit our stupidity in public, but it's more likely that we all know a little something about many different things. Unfortunately, what we don't know are all the caveats, exceptions, and oddities that always accompany the general rules of any field.
This lack of truly specialist knowledge makes it difficult to accurately evaluate new facts and opinions--or even to determine if it is possible to evaluate such facts. 
That doesn't stop us all from trying. The evidence from psychological experiments indicates that people will go to great lengths to make up a coherent story based around facts. And, if they happen to be invested in the story, they will twist themselves into knots to make the result fit their preconceived notions. This sort of reasoning knows no political boundaries: communists did not blame communism for the failure of their regimes, and free market ideologues never blame the market."
The research being cited is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Which proposes that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
  • tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  • fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  • fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  • recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve
Studies in Europe showed "muted" response and in Asia a "reverse" effect. For some reason this article struck me peculiar - since I would have considered it perfect for describing Economists, Politicians, Social Media experts, and many mid-level managers. 

I wonder if experiments were run based on MTBI if there would be a strong correlation based on type?


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