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You're not stupid, but we are stupidly confident

And Socrates knew it all

By Asterion AvocadoPublished 12 months ago 4 min read
You're not stupid, but we are stupidly confident
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

In a famous line from Theatetus, Socrates compares his philosophical activity to midwifery (v, he maieutikê technê). Socrates, according to Maieutics, first facilitates and then criticises other people's ideas. In other words, Socrates felt that individuals were convinced of their own views, even if they were false, and that they could not recognise (as he did) that they simply "didn't know" things. As a result, he would probe them more and more until they began to doubt their earlier ideas or came to a different conclusion. This was not a quest for the ultimate truth, but rather to raise awareness of the reality that we know far less than we believe.

People are asked questions based on fictional stories on Kimmy Kimmel’s show. For example: “What do you think of Trump’s ban on men with beards?”. You’d be surprised to find out the majority of people not only do not catch the lie but never reply “I don’t know”. Sure, some are just embarrassed, others do not wish to seem boring. But, according to David Dunning, there might be a reason why many pretend to know. A significant proportion of subjects in Dunning's experiments claim to be familiar with actual concepts such as centripetal force and photon. However, they also claim some knowledge with notions that are wholly made up, such as parallax plates, ultra-lipid, and cholarine.

By Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Dunning has studied people’s perception of their own competence for more than 20 years—formally known as the study of metacognition, results have been occasionally comical. In many spheres of life, inept people do not recognise their own incompetence, a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. This lack of self-awareness is virtually required by logic: for bad performers to realise their incompetence, they must possess the same skill they lack.

What's interesting is that in many circumstances, ineptitude does not leave individuals feeling puzzled, perplexed, or wary. Instead, the inept are frequently endowed with excessive confidence, boosted by what appears to them to be wisdom.

When asked how much they know about finance, roughly 800 respondents who said they had filed bankruptcy within the previous two years did poorly on the test—on average, in the 37th percentile—but when asked how much they know about finance, they were the ones who reported feeling more confident about being experts in financial matters.

However, our capacity to tell stories creatively, along with our failure to recognise our own ignorance, can occasionally result in circumstances that are awkward, regrettable, or even hazardous.

For financial experts, "predicting" a collapse on Wall Street and other financial markets is the Holy Grail. People will milk the fact that they understood to sell instead of purchase during a crisis for a long time, whether they truly saw something no one else did or were just lucky. Peter Schiff is an example. Since then, he's been touting himself as the one who predicted the 2008 housing collapse/bear market, and he's been exploiting that forecast to spread concerns of hyperinflation and overall disaster. Despite a shaky track record, he appears to have a sizable following, with many detractors suggesting that following his investing advice is a surefire way to lose money.

Even for brands acting on what they think they know can be detrimental. For example, many brands have tried (and many succeeded) to cash in woke/progressive movements. However, many didn’t really understand the concepts but thought they knew the right marketing solution.

Brands are increasingly dabbling in the political territory. Lacoste stated in 2019 that it would replace its distinctive crocodile emblem with ten limited-edition polo shirts depicting different endangered animals; it was quickly pointed out that the business was selling "gloves made from deer leather" and "cow leather purses" online. We also recall Kendall Jenner using a Pepsi can to settle a riot.

Sure, sure. Maybe these brand mishaps don’t have everything to do with ignorance and confidence, etc. But there is something there. Surely, the inability of admitting “we don’t know enough about these issues to act on it”, especially when a mistake may clearly show the hypocrisy at the bottom of these tactics.

By Jr Korpa on Unsplash

The Devil and his lawyer (Devil’s Advocate)

A solution to the ignorance-confidence problem may be playing Devil’s advocate. In a team when we talk about governmental-nonprofit or business field; but by yourself also to avoid being caught off-guard by some Kimmel’s producer on the streets.

When it arises spontaneously, the contrarian is typically perceived as someone disputing ideas for the sake of amusement or for some other malicious goal. However, in a team context (for example), having someone play devil's advocate and question every argument is useful. It is an essential responsibility to ensure that the team does not overlook critical information or neglect to examine other choices. If that is your function in a team (or within your own thinking), it is time to walk out of the role and move on when you feel you have exhausted the worth of a line of reasoning or when the team is ready to move forward. After all, you have to move on at some time.

I now wonder. What would a devil’s advocate think of this piece?


About the Creator

Asterion Avocado

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