Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When You're Too Stupid to Know How Stupid You Are

"Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach /"
The Germans have a word for it (of course they do -- those Germans). Fremdschämen

Fremdschämen describes a peculiar kind of mortification. According to Psychology Today blogger Daniel R. Hawes, it's more than being embarrassed for yourself or another. It describes the almost-horror you feel when you notice that somebody is oblivious to how embarrassing they truly are. Hawes goes on to describe a related psychological phenomena -- The Dunning-Kruger complex.

Hawes explains: "The Dunning-Kruger effect describes a cognitive bias in which people perform poorly on a task, but lack the meta-cognitive capacity to properly evaluate their performance. As a result, such people remain unaware of their incompetence and accordingly fail to take any self-improvement measures that might rid them of their incompetence."

In other words, stupid is as stupid will always and forever be.

You can read more about the Dunning-Kruger effect in Hawes' Quilted Science column on the subject -- "When Ignorance Begets Confidence: The Classic Dunning-Kruger." And if you find it as intriguing as I did, you'll want to dive right into Errol Morris' interview with researcher David Dunning (the Dunning in Dunning-Kruger) on "The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wrong But You'll Never Know What It Is" in which you can learn about the Lemon Juice Bandit who thought he'd discovered the secret to invisibility.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like some UNiversity Administrators I know! Sadly, we are surrounded by such people.