Recursive Dunning-Kruger

Saturday, 14 February, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

As you might have noticed, I'm a great Chris Ballas fan. But this is ok, because some random name on some random forum isn't :

Judging by the comments on his site, I get the impression that he's a writer whose main skill is convincing people that he's smarter than he really is. He achieves this effect in three ways:

1). Writing in a brash, arrogant style comprised almost entirely of declarative sentences.
2). Making weird, esoteric historical, political, and pop culture references and then breezing along without bothering to explain them. He probably knows it's unlikely that any one person would be able to catch all the references he throws out, and would probably have to Google a couple (which is why good writers only use them sparingly, if at all), and I suspect he only includes them so people will think "Wow, that guy must be really smart! He's referenced Zarathustra, Popeye Doyle, and Katniss Everdeen in one paragraph!**" - What he doesn't realise is that anyone can pull this trick.
3). Mixing heavy polysyllabic words like 'egalitarianism' and weirdly stilted academic phrases like 'Only a taught narcissistic psychology' in with conversational language like 'SPOILER ALERT' and 'Duh! That's the whole point!'

His essays don't really stand up to any real scrutiny. I doubt they'd survive ten minutes in GD. The whole thing reads like a beginner's introduction to social psychology written by the guys from Cracked.

Yeah, that's right. To be clear, I have two impressions about the blog. The first is that the author thinks he's really, really smart. I'm not saying he's stupid or anything, but it's clear he thinks he views life through a wider lens than most people. This impression, I get from his own articles and the (IMO) rather arrogant and presumptive style in which they're written. The second impression is that a lot of people have fallen for it. I get that from the comments, many of which seem to support him and relatively few of which address the (again, IMO) rather large holes in a lot of his arguments.

On and on it goes, on the same tone and on the same presumptions, except it's a forum so it slowly degenerates into the sort of petty bickering you'd expect.

Generally, the Dunning-Kruger effect has been understood by the large mass of people who ever heard of it to mean "stupid people do not know they are stupid". This is true, of course, but is not related to the discussion. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes the unfortunate situation where people are less intelligent, informed, and capable of evaluation than they think themselves to be. There's nothing in there about "niggers", or "women", have you noticed this ? It doesn't say "niggers are dumber than they think", it doesn't say "cunts&bitchez are stupid he-he". It doesn't say "everyone other than you", either. It says people. Generally. That means - yourself included.

Which is exactly the problem : somebody with an IQ of 85, someone who struggles to recall a two paragraph description he just heard, someone who can't read through a 300 page technical manual in an afternoon and reproduce it orally in a two hour speech afterwards does not readily imagine that other people, specifically, people intellectually superior to him can and in fact regularly do both of these.i

The same frustration that would lead your marginal retard to lash out should you force him to do basic functional analysis for his food manifests in the random forum poster above. To him, his own inability to decode language as used by a pointedly superior intellect is frustrating. This frustration, being as it is an emotional process, does not cross over into cognition (and it'd be perhaps concering for his mental health if it did ?) but is resolved through the emotional mechanisms - and so he lashes out. He is upset that the writer makes too many references (with which he's not familiar, so he has to google - as fucking ifii), he is upset that the writer uses metaphor in ways he can't readily decode (but he doesn't realise this is probably due to the same reason you won't get jokes if the punchline revolves around things you just now for the first time heard about), and since he's a little paranoidiii he imagines some sort of conspiracy among the people who get it.

Inasmuch as this is physiological, there's nothing "wrong" with it. It's not particularly useful, of course, but inasmuch as it's not particularly useful to the patient himself, nobody cares.

It would perhaps be worthwhile to address the specious sort of reasoning that proposes a reader who hasn't understood a text is in a position to evaluate that text. Since I'm a major actor in a field drawing a lot of mostly unrelated public interest (Bitcoin) I get to see a lot of confused redditard nonsense on these lines. It should perhaps also be worthwhile to address the specious sort of reasoning that proposes public interest is, on its own strength, relevant to any professional field - as if somehow the number of people who play Risk: The Game of Global Domination at home has any sort of impact on international diplomacy, or the number of people who read pop psychology and follow "medical" TV shows is important for the field of medicine.

It is however impossible to address this sort of insanity, principally because the people who are intellectually able to cross the barrier get it necessarily, as part of that crossing, whereas the people who aren't by that very fact can't distinguish said barrier from a stone wall. So it will remain unaddressed.


In any case : what DK says, first and foremost, is that you are probably unable to understand what DK says in your own case. This is why it's so fascinating : because if you think about it, it's actually a plain statement of the impossibility of a "science of the mind". Which, incidentally, is a point about as old as dirt.

  1. Subplot : lesser writers often imagine that my lengthy (and more importantly - substantial) blog posts take me a long time to prepare. This is not true : I usually write them in one go, at about 50 WPM (which means the average Trilema article takes me about twenty minutes) and rarely re-read them (if I do, it's mostly a paragraph at a time) or substantially edit them. This is because my thought process is well structured and my memory perfectly capable of holding a thousand or so words, at least in the general lines, after which once I sit down to write my general literacy allows me to express without effort.

    And then, people who do in fact have all these various skills and abilities - an IQ of perhaps 130 or thereabouts, I would guess - do not readily realise that I mostly cook up my articles in my sleep, that my brain does this while I'm not actually present and then just presents me with the results as I wake up.

    And I, in turn, have no fucking idea what goes on in Cthulhu's brain. (Unless I get angry. Then I have a pretty good idea. Don't get me angry, you'll live longer.) []

  2. The notion that googling an unknown reference has resolved the problem is ludicrous, about on par with the proposition that checking on a girl's profile on Facebook has now made you sexually intimate with her. This is not how familiarity works, and if you proceed to act like she's been your subbie for a coupla decades should you meet (on the strength of, you know, "I've seen your online pics *huh huh snort*") she will probably slap you - as she should. References don't have hands, but I would definitely contribute to a "Give References Hands So They May Slap Idiots Who Think Googling Solves The Problem" fund. []
  3. Inasmuch a boat, self righting rig on the open seas of water, is either inclined port or starboard, the brain, self righting rig on the open seas of stimuli, is either inclined paranoid or schizoid. There's nothing in either term other than that : which side is the thing off kilter ? It doesn't have to be off kilter a lot, and generally it isn't. []
Category: Meta psihoza
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30 Responses

  1. "...does not readily imagine that other people, specifically, people intellectually superior to him can and in fact regularly do both of these."

    Or at least, imagines that someone regularly capable of these is in some other way profoundly broken. As if they're obligated to compensate by having poor social skills, or a strange wardrobe, or no love life, or a really hard time walking, etc. Somehow they're better able to digest the notion of superiority so long as it can be compartmentalized and contrasted to coalesce into a sort of overall score in which everyone earns the same mark, and everyone wins.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 14 February 2015

    Right, right. Because if "we're all equal" but some are manifestly unequal it must therefore be the case there's some hidden variables that even it all out. I suppose this actually explains the immense debauch of resources (financial, but also in terms of man-hours) on social "sciences" : being unmeasurable doesn't mean, to the average USian, that they're worthless. On the contrary : it means they're extremely useful, as the pretense can be put forth that they're the very hidden variables in question, and such pretense won't be easily debunked.

  3. brendafdez`s avatar
    Sunday, 15 February 2015

    This is so frustrating and unfair, it takes me probably 20 minutes to *read* a Trilema article :D

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 15 February 2015

    We're all about fairness and equality over here!

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