Quote of the day—David Dunning

If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … when you’re incompetent, the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

David Dunning
June 20, 2010
The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1)
[H/T to Linoge who got me started on the Wiki-wander that led here.

I found it fascinating that there have been similar astute observations on the same topic throughout history.

This is exactly what happens with many of the anti-gun people we encounter. They cannot even comprehend how disparate in competence they are when they engage us on the topic. They are frequently profoundly clueless, don’t know it, and cannot be told how clueless they are.

It find it interesting that another aspect of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that those who are highly competent tend to underestimate their skill level. Perhaps the following Twitter exchange demonstrates that:

 Lady Farmer@djmincey11 7h

@apple_butter NOBODY WANTS YOUR DAMN GUN! Understand now? @TANSTAAFL24 @KentAtwater4 @wallsofthecity @psherm07

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 5h

@djmincey11 You must have your head in the sand: http://blog.joehuffman.org/category/gun-rights/no-one-wants-to-take-your-guns/ … @apple_butter @TANSTAAFL24 @KentAtwater4 @wallsofthecity @psherm07

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 4h

@JoeHuffman I don’t care to read your “opinion” piece. @apple_butter @TANSTAAFL24 @KentAtwater4 @wallsofthecity @psherm07

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 3h

@djmincey11 Factual examples are not opinions. Are you allergic to facts? @apple_butter @TANSTAAFL24 @KentAtwater4 @wallsofthecity @psherm07

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 3h

I know the difference between fact & speculation. Cognitive powers aren’t magic. I’ll give you a minute to Google the big words @JoeHuffman

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 3h

@djmincey11 For years I had the job title of Senior Research Scientist II. I know this topic well and I know you don’t. @wallsofthecity

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 3h

For years I held the title of Executive Director, Reigional Director, CEO and Vice President/Owner. Now what? @JoeHuffman

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 2h

@djmincey11 I suggest you learn some science and educate yourself on the topic at hand. @wallsofthecity

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 2h

I suggest you KNOW your opponent BEFORE you run into battle. @JoeHuffman @wallsofthecity

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 2h

@djmincey11 I find it odd that you don’t follow your own advice. Is hypocrisy one of your greatest strengths? @wallsofthecity

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 2h

Are we finished yet? I am bored with this sniping. @JoeHuffman @wallsofthecity

Joe Huffman@JoeHuffman 2h

@djmincey11 Only if you stop tweeting nonsense about guns, gun owners, and the enumerated right to keep and bear arms. @wallsofthecity

Lady Farmer@djmincey11 2h

And FYI… I will NEVER stop tweeting facts because it hurts your feewings. *here’s a hanky* @JoeHuffman @wallsofthecity

I dropped it there because she was going off the deep end into irrationality at that point. At no point did my feelings come up in the conversation or was I even aware of having any particularly strong  feelings on the matter. And she was particularly lacking in facts.

But the point I wanted to make was that I didn’t think I was being particularly effective. Perhaps just a little bit more than holding my own.

So imagine my surprise to the following tweets in response to the exchange:

Linoge@wallsofthecity 2h

Your afternoon’s entertainment: #gunsense useful idiot @djmincey11 is trying to have a battle of wits with @JoeHuffman. She came unarmed.

towerclimber37@towerclimber37 53m

@wallsofthecity @djmincey11 @JoeHuffman hahahahah she got owned.

Blackstone@bitterclingerpa 36m

@towerclimber37 @wallsofthecity @djmincey11 @JoeHuffman Owned? Broken, sold, used, traded & then sold again. Science vs a Suit


Interesting. Very interesting.—Joe]


22 thoughts on “Quote of the day—David Dunning

  1. So she apparently owned her own business and made up her titles as she went along… all without ever having a brain. Impressive that.

      • You screwed up when you threw your job title into it. That made it personal on your part. That’s the “feelings” part. That’s the puffing up your chest and saying “Mine is bigger than yours.” She had no problem reading you.

        • How would you suggest one factually refute her supposition that I am unable to distinguish between fact and speculation? You have 112 characters.

          • That is a good question, and maybe it presents something of a conundrum. On one hand, it may be a legitimate response to say that you’ve been in logic-based industry most of your productive life. On the other hand, responding to her personal attack with a personal defense is probably serving no purpose other than allowing her to change the subject. It’s not about you, nor about her, but something much larger and beyond personal station. It is about principle.

            She says, “Your mother wears Army boots!”
            Rather than present photos showing your mother in perfectly fashionable shoes, it’s probably better to point out that your mother’s footwear is beside the point. Same goes for your job title, et al. The head in the sand comment was probably not the best way to handle someone making an irrational argument, assuming your goal is to make her forget her emotions and stop and think for a bit. A verbal slap may at times be required, but is usually not the best way to lead someone to the joy of discovery.

            Years ago I advocated ridicule and ostracism of the left, but I have largely changed my mind on that point. Responding to emotion with emotion, ridicule with ridicule, insults with insults, etc., is no way to win hearts and minds except from already emotion-driven people, and you’re not actually helping them because you’re reinforcing their emotion-driven status.

            It depends on your goal. If you want more page hits then it seems that “yelling” at the left and pointing out their ignorance and aversion to facts (crap for brains) is a reliable method of achieving that. You have a lot of competition in that arena though. If your only concern is working to bring people from the “other side” over to the light of reason, then that’s a different process and either making, or being side-tracked by, personal accusations is a poor method.

            Focusing purely on converting people can and will work to an extent, but your web traffic would probably drop– a lot of people search the web for emotional gratification of some kind. Certainly there would be a demographic shift in participation. People looking for a fight, or looking to see a fight (i.e. seeking emotional stimulation) would eventually go somewhere else. It’s a touchy business even talking about it.

          • I think it went off the rails with “head in the sand.”
            Perhaps: “To the contrary-he’s a bunch of video clips of government people saying they do.” That would have indicated to her it wasn’t a opinion piece, but a documentary. It’s impersonal.
            If she still refuses to click the link, saying what she did, the “allergic to facts” comment was personal, so perhaps: “The public record of political statements is not MY opinion, it’s what politicians and activists themselves say they want.”
            If she still follows the same line, just include the Feinstein quote with a link to just that clip. “Is she a nobody?”
            Or, perhaps, she’s so blinded by ideology, hypnotized as Lyle would say, there isn’t anything you can say to convince HER, just inform her “followers” she’s an idiot to they ignore her.

          • I’m not really interested in web traffic. I’m interested in changing the culture. Or perhaps more accuracy restore the principles of the Constitution.

            I’m not sure that I want to ridicule progressives/left. But I cannot and will not give them any respect. They no more deserve respect than someone advocating slavery. Which is what they do advocate.

            I don’t really care if I win them over. I just want them politically and socially neutered. Ostracize? Sure. I’m fine with that.

            Civil conversation? Do you advocate civil conversations with a slave trader? Or do you show them all the contempt you can legally deliver?

        • Actually, the screw-up started when he engaged a gun-grabber believing there was thought happening in their skull.

        • In this case, the title wasn’t directly applicable to Joe’s point, but at least it demonstrated that he has some potential of understanding the difference between fact and fiction. The titles Lady Farmer gave…not so much.

          Several months ago I got into an argument about health care (and in particular Obamacare); I mentioned that I was a mathematician who has taught probability and statistics, so I had some idea of what it takes to figure out health care premiums. One of the arguers accused me of “appealing to authority”…which, on the face of it, is *technically* a logical fallacy…but when it’s authority that’s directly applicable to the subject at hand, the accusation should be “Well, then, explain what insurance companies do, smarty pants!” rather than “You’re arguing from a fallacy so your argument is false!”

          I have deep sympathies for anyone who doesn’t automatically trust authority; having said that, the proper way to challenge authority is to require that authority to make their case. That so many collectivists don’t like to do that makes me question their motives…

  2. One of my father’s favorite sayings:
    He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool. Shun him.

    The rest of it is:
    He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child. Teach him.
    He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep, wake him.
    He who knows and knows that he knows is a genius. Follow him.

  3. The main benefit of a debate is not the effect it has on your opponent but rather the effect it has on the bystanders. Not everyone’s views are as fully developed as those who choose to cross swords with words, and a well reasoned argument can have an impact on them. And you’ll probably never know who they were.

  4. If idiots aren’t rebutted with facts, their idiocy becomes main stream thought. That’s what happened all the time before the Internet brought the hammer of disintermediation to the media.

  5. I think that argument is fundamentally flawed. I know of several topics and areas of expertise where I lack competence, but sometimes for expediencies sake it works to bluff and press forward. Hell, the production model at Microsoft is based on this principle – you can be incompetent as heck, but if you carefully structure your review goals, you’ll be rewarded for it.

    The deal with the antigunners is they may very well lack technical expertise in the form and function of firearms, but for their purposes it doesn’t matter. To them, there’s no significant functional difference between my flintlock wall hanger and my safe full of AR-15s. They lump together categories of firearms on a seemingly random basis, but it has far less to do with technical function or practical results than it does on overall perception of what legislation might be passed based on the latest trendy catchword they can assign to the group. But if all guns are fundamentally the same (ignoring that this isn’t necessarily true) then they don’t really care when you explain that the AR-15 is the most popular long arm in America – you can confiscate them all you want, but still, “no one is trying to take your guns.” Because there are still guns available.

    Sure, it doesn’t make sense to us – and I understand, given your known hyper-logical mental processes, Joe, how this deeply offends your sensibilities. But seriously, people are wired differently – and trying to deprogram someone like Lady Farmer is like trying to deprogram a gay person. We recognized that “gay” is a form of mental wiring, not an affliction. so we’ve learned to accept it. We don’t try to reason someone with severe mental disabilities out of being stupid. We just keep pointy objects out of their reach.

    I realize that this is your hobby and/or calling, but trying to reprogram the Lady Farmers is for the most part futile. For every Linoge (on our side) applauding your efforts, you’ll have an equal number on her side thinking you’re a total dipshit. So who wins? Nobody.

    The key is to treat Lady Farmer like Ebola. Isolate her so she can’t infect others.

  6. “I think that argument is fundamentally flawed. I know of several topics and areas of expertise where I lack competence, but sometimes for expediencies sake it works to bluff and press forward.”

    Nah. The Drunning-Kruger effect is actually a state of absolute stupidity above and beyond your garden-variety ignorance. It’s where
    A: You don’t know jack about the topic, but you think you’re an expert.
    B: In your mind, the other experts have it wrong (They called me mad!). Your critics are stupid or jealous of your talent.

    I don’t think Mr. Huffman’s got it right either. It’s not that Lady Farmer is ignorant enough to suffer from the DK Effect. She is misinformed, and has been deliberately misinformed for decades. You’re looking at the result of a successful propaganda campaign.

    I just finished Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, by Belton Cooper. During the occupation of Germany, the author stayed in the house of a deceased industrialist. And in the months after the war, he met the industrialist’s daughter. She was well-educated, spoke French and English beautifully, and had attended finishing schools in France and England just over a decade before the war.

    Despite this, NSDAP propaganda had convinced both her and her father that the Americans were committing unspeakable atrocities, and they would be brutally tortured and killed if the Allies ever took the city. So, when the Allies finally crossed the Rhine, her father gathered the family and handed out cyanide pills. She administered the pills to her children with some candy, and when she was convinced they were dead, she took one herself. She somehow survived.

    Despite the best education money can buy, she fell victim to the Big Lie and a dozen smaller ones. And for the rest of her life, she had to live with the fact that she murdered her two little daughters.

    So, no, Mr. Huffman isn’t trying to deprogram a gay person. He’s confronting a raging homophobe in the hopes that she or someone in the audience will start thinking about their indoctrination.

  7. “I am bored with this sniping.”

    I wonder if she realizes how much gun related terminology is sprinkled throughout our language? And other types of weapons, for that matter.

    People like her always fall back on emotions (feelings) when they realize they may not be winning the argument/competition. It’s always some sort of competition to them, instead of seeing it as an exchange of data, and the perceptions of how the various bits of data interrelate.
    What I find puzzling is that how much they unconsciously agree with socialism seems to closely correspond to their reliance on emotion in discussions/arguments. I’m not talking about the typical surface agreement with capitalism here, but how willing they are to use and abuse any .gov system to avoid paying for their own legitimate expenses. And how they justify it. Closet socialists might be a good description.
    I don’t know how this seeming connection might work. Chicken/egg? I don’t have the background to go beyond the observation.

  8. She’s in a hypnotic, i.e. emotional, state. So long as she’s in that state you can no more change her mind than you can convince that guy in the video “The Hypnotic States of Americans” to put his shoes on the proper way. HE knows his shoes are more comfortable when the right shoe is on the left foot and the left shoe is on the right, and YOU are simply being stubborn in your insistence that he’s doing it wrong. The more you argue with him, the more he is reinforced in his position. All he needs, to go into a murderous rampage, is someone in his trust group egging him a little; “Doesn’t it annoy you when people are so stubborn…” and so on, in escalation.

    On the national scene, we’ve been seeing this escalation going on all our lives. There are countless examples. L.B. Johnson’s “Great Society” was fairly easily sold with “We must help the poor. It’s the least we can do. It’s our duty” and has morphed into “Eat the rich! GET ‘EM” The formation of the EPA was sold pretty easily. Who wants poison air and poison water? Now they’ve officially declared the CO2 you exhale to be a pollutant. You are a walking pollution factory, damn you. I submit to you that all this has been done exactly the same way that guy was convinced that everyone in the room with him was crazy for having their shoes on the proper feet, and that he (along with the man gently uttering suggestions to him) were the only sane voices. It would have taken less than ten minutes for the killing to start, had that been the goal.

    That state of mind comes from insecurity and all the emotions that come as a result, to fill the void in a person and lend them a sense of security or vindication, or just distract a person from the pain. Irritation, resentment, anger, fear, excitement, guilt, even a warm feeling of “love” is an emotion that can, along with a few subtle suggestions, lead a person to do horrible things.

    The antidote is to help form some distance between the person and the emotions. Coolly, calmly, without rancor, like a loving grandfather with his bright grandchild, point to something of relevant interest that might lead them to that little spark of discovery, that “Ah ha!” moment, and your job is done. The rest will take care of itself. Now it’s perhaps a bit more difficult when we’re talking about the right to bear arms, being that self defense has become such an emotionally charged subject.

  9. So if I KNOW I’m incompetent, does that mean I’m actually competent? But then if I know THAT then it means I’m incompetent again. I’m incompetent either way then it seems, and so I’ll just have to take things as they come and deal with as best I can at the moment. Don’t count on me for anything then. If you do you’re hosed.

    • Chuckle. No. Recognizing your limitations is the step above utter incompetence. It means you won’t *totally* screw everything up trying to fix problems WAY above your skill level. And that’s a good thing.

  10. Who was it that warned against launching the Space Shuttle Challenger… Who insisted that it be launched anyway despite the warnings and risks?

  11. It is funny… I learned about the Dunning-Kruger Effect in Psych 101 in College, but in a purely academic sense.

    Twitter shows me the applied version every day.

    From having dealt with that woman before and having watched her interact with other people, you had absolutely no chance of reaching her, on any level whatsoever… and that is not a reflection upon you or your capacities, Joe. Some people simply deny that which does not fit their world view, and there is no helping them.

  12. Pingback: speaks for itself | walls of the city

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