March 19, 2012

Well, 1) It's science, and 2)...

...It validates one of my preconceived notions: THEREFORE, it must be true.

So, what prompts this sudden return from hibernation?

Finding out there is an actual name for the theory I have long espoused on this blog, namely, "It's not the stupid people who're the problem, it's the people who think they're smart."

Yep, it seems that I'm not the only one who's noticed this, and the someones who did notice are all full of psychological booklearning, therefore what they say must be completely and absolutely true.

I was cruising by Ace of Spades HQ today, and saw this interesting post talking about this exact topic, and it sent me to this article about something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

As best as I can tell, the stupider people are (and oddly enough, Americans in particular), the more likely they are to think they are the sharpest hammer in the toolbox.

People who actually are smart seem to understand a bit better just how stinkin' little they actually do know in the greater scheme of things, and are more likely to admit they don't know something, shut up when they're out of their element, and not try to tell everyone else how to run their bidness.

Ace's co-blogger rdbrewer notes several corollaries to this idea, and they all pretty much describe the sorts of people who alternately irritate and scare the crap out of me. And who seem, at least if voting preferences are any indication, to make up about half the population.

Which is pretty danged disheartening.

My solution? Not sure, but I'm thinking that I make up a fictional country, and start telling everyone that NO ONE can come in without special permission. All the forward-leaning smartypants types who can't stand being left out of anything will all clamor to get in, or else they'll issue a fatwa or UN resolution or boycott or whatever. Then I'll relent and tell them they can come in after all, and I'll reluctantly point them to a big door that says Stay Out (which will make them even more eager to go in), and on the other side will be a million hungry tigers and crocodiles with chainsaws. I figure about midway through the line, people will start to think it's maybe not the best idea to go in, and so I'll jump up and slam the door and tell them "NO! NO MORE!!" They'll shove me aside, of course, and the rest of them will go charging on in.

The only problem I see is not having enough hungry tigers and crocodiles, and keeping the chainsaws fueled up. I might have some of those nice electric ones--maybe even plug them into one of those big wind turbines or something, just to be ecologically-minded.

[UPDATE 4-17-12--The Return of Dunning-Kruger!]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at March 19, 2012 08:36 PM

I suppose that answers a question that has been on my mind for many years: "Do stupid people know they are stupid?"

I am not as ambitious as you so rather than starting my own country, I am thinking of founding the American Organization for Adults. In order to join, you'd have to swear to take responsibility for your actions and not blame anyone for your problems.

I'd charge $25 per year and not deliver anything other than a bumper sticker and maybe a refrigerator magnet. Any real adult who joined would not complain but rather admire my ingenuity.

Oh and a website so people could join up. Maybe I'd even post an occasional erudite essay.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at March 23, 2012 08:08 AM

Of course, you're going to have some people who want to get in without having to swear to be responsible. For those, you'd have to offer the Executive Level Package, which would cost $1,000, and include an executive velveteen envelope in which the refrigerator magnet and bumper sticker are enclosed, as well as a certificate of authenticity.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 23, 2012 08:55 AM

I assume you will be expecting royalties on the velveteen envelope idea?

I think you got the price about right and that you know that you just established a corollary to the rule in your post.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at March 23, 2012 04:28 PM

Royalties? Oh, come now--that sounds so crass. Think of it as an investment, as when the government takes some of your money and invests it in things that are good for you. Such as giving people who can afford a $106,000 Fisker Karma electric car a nice $7,500 tax credit.

So, yes, my idea does come with opportunities for investment for you to take advantage of. For each $1,000 Executive Level Package you sell, you would then be able to give me an investment of $1,010--that's only an additional 1%!

Rest assured, I'll use that 1% investment to really STICK IT to the rich, 1% fatcats that we all loathe and hate (but in a purely justified, open-minded, and tolerant way).

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 23, 2012 04:42 PM

Okay. That makes perferct sense to me as I have had many years of exposure to similar arguments from my beloved government officials. Do I ahve to pay the 1% even if I make no sales?

Posted by: Larry Anderson at March 26, 2012 08:00 AM

Oh, no, no--of COURSE not! You only have to pay the monthly minimum service fee of $485.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 26, 2012 01:36 PM

There are people like that down here as well, just to balance the world I suppose.

The worst thing is that, when you do venture a quiet humble word of truth into a conversation filled with nonsense, they (the stupid people who think they are clever) all shriek, "How ON EARTH could you possibly know that?" or "What makes you think you're so clever?"

Posted by: kitchen hand at March 28, 2012 10:01 PM

Well, the obvious answer: "GOOGLE IT!!" All the really smart people know there's nothing like the Googles for truth.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 29, 2012 11:07 AM

Hey, by the way--good to hear from you, Kitchen Hand! Hope all is well way down yonder.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 29, 2012 11:08 AM

Looky here as you Southern White Folks say. I disappear for a year and a half, and suddenly there's blog posts. Two since my last visit if I'm not mistaken.

I would be delighted to sign up as a charter member of your official Smart People's organizations. Fortunately for all concerned, I am in possession of $$$$$ FIVE HUNDRED MILLIONS of your American Euro Dollars recently repatriated from your uncle Sese Soko Hungadunga. If you would be kind enough to email me your credit cards and passwords, I will be glad to release it to you.

Oh wait, never mind. Real men don't put bumper stickers on their cars.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 15, 2012 10:04 PM

See--if you'd come by more often, this wouldn't have been such a big surprise!

As for the American Organization for Adults, that is strictly a creation of Mr. Anderson's. I merely act as an advisor and investment coordinator.

As for the bumper sticker, you may always stick it on your wife's car. Or if you object to the unmanly practice of putting it on your car, you may decide rather to opt for the Super Executive Package, which for the low price of only $3,500 gives you access to the special invisible bumper sticker--no one need ever know that you've a sticker on your bumper and thus question your manliness. You will, however, be able to rest in smug assurance of just exactly how smart you are.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 15, 2012 10:29 PM

NOW you're talking. That's just the kind of forward thinking I want in an organization. No wonder they hired you.

I'll take ten. Please send via UPS as soon as possible. Bill to be sent to Mr. B. Obama, White House, Center of the Universe. Tell him I'm good for it.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 15, 2012 11:29 PM

We'll be glad to honor your request for 10 Super Executive Packages, however, we do not ship prior to receiving payment.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 16, 2012 07:14 AM

Per US Government official rules, and the Power Vested in Me(TM) you have already been "paid" the "amount due to you". For particular values of "paid" and "you", naturally.

Out of the kindness of our hearts we've redirected the funds on your behalf to a highly reliable maker of green energy solar products for doghouses and bird feeders. We figured you'd appreciate us saving you the postage.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 16, 2012 09:33 AM


We are grateful for your generosity and commitment to the environment. Also, due to your prompt, though illusory, payment, you should expect your bonus gift of a five-day home visit by Vice President Sheriff Joe Biden beginning this weekend.

You are very welcome!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 16, 2012 10:38 AM

I think we musta missed him somehow. Pity, as we had tons of cholent [look it up] leftover and I would have been proud to share it with such a noble and wise representative of the people.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 23, 2012 09:06 AM

Yummy--nothing like a big bowl of Cholent Green!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 23, 2012 10:19 AM