You may have seen them. Those Man on the Street Interviews. They have been a popular feature on late night television shows, YouTube channels and other media. In fact, they have been done in various formats for decades, going back to vintage radio.
They can be good for a laugh, a major part of their appeal and why they are done most likely. And, it is incredibly easy to laugh at those fools isn’t it, as they reveal so publicly just how ignorant they are, or dumb or both. Our scoffing, and our attitude behind it, comes so naturally we don’t even think about it. It probably doesn’t even occur to us how, more easily than we would want to admit, that could be us. There but for the grace of God…
Why We Are All Confident Idiots
You see, there is an odd twist that comes into play when it comes to what we know versus what we think we know. And, trust us on this, it applies to everyone, not just those unfortunate souls we feel so superior to. It seems a bit counterintuitive – we should know what we know, right? But, there are very good reasons why that isn’t so.
It’s one thing to feel like we know something but it is another to be overly confident about it. We may be reasonably confident about an opinion or knowledge of a subject, but open to correction. Being teachable is a healthy condition. However, too often we may fall prey to the common trait of blindness to our ignorance. Worse yet, we may combine arrogance with our ignorance.
Some highlights from a piece explaining “why we are all confident idiots.”
- It’s been said that being educated is being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.
- The phenomenon is actually known as the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”
- The truth is, education often produces illusory confidence.
- It’s particularly evident with people who strongly believe in a particular worldview.
- Rampant misinformation from the Internet and news media amplifies the problem.
Awareness is Better Than Ignorance
Here are some suggestions for avoiding these pitfalls:
- Find a devil’s advocate.
- Be your own devil’s advocate.
- Get in a habit of considering the opposite.
- Regularly seek good advice from smart, mature people.
- Never be afraid to simply say, “I don’t know.”
There are two very valuable aspects to this. One is that the better we understand this phenomenon, the better we can understand others. It will help us better interact with them and hopefully make progress in discussions rather than going in circles. Or, worse yet, getting into the typical fights that escalate to the point of losing the ability to communicate at all.
The other is, of course, that we can better understand ourselves, hopefully something we all would welcome. This holds benefits for us personally, enabling us to learn and grow. Coincidentally, the more open we are to this, the more available we are to others. As they perceive in us an honest, open quality, they may be more naturally drawn to listening to us, as we are to them.
Read more at Why Are The Ignorant So Confident?.