Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Conservatives: Too Stupid To Know They're Stupid

In a temporary departure from the world of Conservatives and their religion, we take another look at what we have charitably called "Conservatives Are Stupid" (see our previous posts at http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/search/label/conservatives_are_stupid) to examine an article, "The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1)," by Errol Morris, blogging at the New York Times.

Anosognosia (pron.: /æˌnɒsɒɡˈnziə/, /æˌnɒsɒɡˈnʒə/) (ah no sog no zah) is viewed as a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.

"1. The Juice

"David Dunning, a Cornell professor of social psychology, was perusing the 1996 World Almanac. In a section called Offbeat News Stories he found a tantalizingly brief account of a series of bank robberies committed in Pittsburgh the previous year. From there, it was an easy matter to track the case to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, specifically to an article by Michael A. Fuoco:


"At 5 feet 6 inches and about 270 pounds, bank robbery suspect McArthur Wheeler isn’t the type of person who fades into the woodwork. So it was no surprise that he was recognized by informants, who tipped detectives to his whereabouts after his picture was telecast Wednesday night during the Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers Inc. segment of the 11 o’clock news.

"At 12:10 a.m. yesterday, less than an hour after the broadcast, he was arrested at 202 S. Fairmont St., Lincoln-Lemington. Wheeler, 45, of Versailles Street, McKeesport, was wanted in [connection with] bank robberies on Jan. 6 at the Fidelity Savings Bank in Brighton Heights and at the Mellon Bank in Swissvale. In both robberies, police said, Wheeler was accompanied by Clifton Earl Johnson, 43, who was arrested Jan. 12.[1]

"Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. 'But I wore the juice,' he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

"In a follow-up article, Fuoco spoke to several Pittsburgh police detectives who had been involved in Wheeler’s arrest. Commander Ronald Freeman assured Fuoco that Wheeler had not gone into 'this thing' blindly but had performed a variety of tests prior to the robbery. Sergeant Wally Long provided additional details — 'although Wheeler reported the lemon juice was burning his face and his eyes, and he was having trouble (seeing) and had to squint, he had tested the theory, and it seemed to work.' He had snapped a Polaroid picture of himself and wasn’t anywhere to be found in the image. It was like a version of Where’s Waldo with no Waldo. Long tried to come up with an explanation of why there was no image on the Polaroid. He came up with three possibilities:

"(a) the film was bad;

"(b) Wheeler hadn’t adjusted the camera correctly; or

"(c) Wheeler had pointed the camera away from his face at the critical moment when he snapped the photo.[2]

"As Dunning read through the article, a thought washed over him, an epiphany. If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.

"Dunning wondered whether it was possible to measure one’s self-assessed level of competence against something a little more objective — say, actual competence. Within weeks, he and his graduate student, Justin Kruger, had organized a program of research. Their paper, 'Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments,' was published in 1999.[3]

"Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, 'When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.'

"It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence."

For the interview with Dunning, see --> http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/

"And from Wikipedia's take on the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.[1]

"Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".[2]

"Historical references

"Although the Dunning–Kruger effect was put forward in 1999, Dunning and Kruger quoted Charles Darwin ('Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge')[3] and Bertrand Russell ('One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision')[4] as authors who have recognised the phenomenon. Geraint Fuller, commenting on the paper, notes that Shakespeare expresses similar sentiment in As You Like It ('The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.' (V.i)).[5] A biblical reference is Proverbs 12:15, which states: 'The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.'[6]

"The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Dunning and Kruger.[2][7] Dunning and Kruger noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

"Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
1.  tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
2.  fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
3.  fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
4.  recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

"Dunning has since drawn an analogy ('the anosognosia of everyday life')[1][8] with a condition in which a person who suffers a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of or denies the existence of the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis.

"Supporting studies

"Dunning and Kruger set out to test these hypotheses on Cornell undergraduates in psychology courses. In a series of studies, they examined the subjects' self-assessment of logical reasoning skills,grammatical skills, and humor. After being shown their test scores, the subjects were again asked to estimate their own rank: the competent group accurately estimated their rank, while the incompetent group still overestimated theirs. As Dunning and Kruger noted,
Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.
"Meanwhile, people with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others.

"A follow-up study, reported in the same paper, suggests that grossly incompetent students improved their ability to estimate their rank after minimal tutoring in the skills they had previously lacked, regardless of the negligible improvement in actual skills.

"In 2003, Dunning and Joyce Ehrlinger, also of Cornell University, published a study that detailed a shift in people's views of themselves when influenced by external cues. Participants in the study, Cornell University undergraduates, were given tests of their knowledge of geography, some intended to affect their self-views positively, some negatively. They were then asked to rate their performance, and those given the positive tests reported significantly better performance than those given the negative.[9]

"Daniel Ames and Lara Kammrath extended this work to sensitivity to others, and the subjects' perception of how sensitive they were.[10] Other research has suggested that the effect is not so obvious and may be due to noise and bias levels. In a series of 12 tasks across three studies, researchers found that on moderately difficult tasks, the best and worst performers differ very little in accuracy, and on more difficult tasks, the best performers are less accurate than the worst performers in their judgments. This pattern suggests that judges at all skill levels are subject to similar degrees of error.[11]

"Ehrlinger et al. (2008) made an attempt to test alternative explanations, but came to qualitatively similar conclusions to the original work. The paper concludes that the root cause is that, in contrast to high performers, 'poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve.'[4]

"Studies on the Dunning–Kruger effect tend to focus on American test subjects. A study on some East Asian subjects suggested that something like the opposite of the Dunning–Kruger effect may operate on self-assessment and motivation to improve.[12]"

"This brings us to an examine of other defense mechanisms, again from Wikipedia ('...psychological strategies brought into play by the unconscious mind[1] to manipulate, deny, or distort reality (through processes including, but not limited to, repression, identification, or rationalization),[2] and to maintain a socially acceptable self-image or self-schema.[3])') that the Conservative Sheeplets are so well known for - Denial, Minimisation, and Projection:

"Denial, in ordinary English usage, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true.[1] The same word, and also abnegation, is used for a psychological defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.[2][3] The subject may use:
simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether
minimisation: admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalization)
projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility by blaming somebody or something else.
"The concept of denial is particularly important to the study of addiction. The theory of denial was first researched seriously by Anna Freud. She classified denial as a mechanism of the immature mind, because it conflicts with the ability to learn from and cope with reality. Where denial occurs in mature minds, it is most often associated with death, dying and rape. More recent research has significantly expanded the scope and utility of the concept. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross used denial as the first of five stages in the psychology of a dying patient, and the idea has been extended to include the reactions of survivors to news of a death. Thus, when parents are informed of the death of a child, their first reaction is often of the form, 'No! You must have the wrong house, you can't mean our child!'

"Unlike some other defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory (for instance, repression), the general existence of denial is fairly easy to verify, even for non-specialists. On the other hand, denial is one of the most controversial defense mechanisms, since it can be easily used to create unfalsifiable theories: anything the subject says or does that appears to disprove the interpreter's theory is explained, not as evidence that the interpreter's theory is wrong, but as the subject's being 'in denial'. However, researchers note that in some cases of corroborated child sexual abuse, the victims sometimes make a series of partial confessions and recantations as they struggle with their own denial and the denial of abusers or family members. Use of denial theory in a legal setting therefore must be carefully regulated and experts' credentials verified. 'Formulaic guilt' simply by 'being a denier' has been castigated by English judges and academics.[4]

"The concept of denial is important in twelve-step programs, where the abandonment or reversal of denial forms the basis of the first, fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth steps. The ability to deny or minimize is an essential part of what enables an addict to continue his or her behavior despite evidence that—to an outsider—appears overwhelming. This is cited as one of the reasons that compulsion is seldom effective in treating addiction—the habit of denial remains.

"When a family intervention is conducted to help a person engaged in self-destructive behavior such as alcohol or drug abuse to accept help for his problem, denial is sometimes reduced or eliminated altogether. This is not always necessary, however, for the intervention to be successful in having the person accept help.

"Understanding and avoiding denial is also important in the treatment of various diseases. The American Heart Association cites denial as a principal reason that treatment of a heart attack is delayed. Because the symptoms are so varied, and often have other potential explanations, the opportunity exists for the patient to deny the emergency, often with fatal consequences. It is common for patients to delay mammograms or other tests because of a fear of cancer, even though this is clearly maladaptive. It is the responsibility of the care team, and of the nursing staff in particular, to train at-risk patients to avoid such behavior."

Fun question to ask the Sheeplets in their forums and other hidey-holes:  "Are you suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect?"

Once again, we must issue a plea for mercy for the Conservative Sheeplets after Conservatism is criminalized (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/p/punishments.html.), the poor babies aren't responsible for most of their actions due to differences in their brain structure from normal people.  Re-education and a temporary  cessation of their civil rights until they can be restored to a more liberal, more polite society is called for here, not punishment. (Please note our Page on the science of Conservatism, http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/p/science-of-conservatism.html, where we posited that "..around the time a survey showed that Republicans were slightly below average IQ and Democrats slightly higher on the average, another study following children to adulthood proved that low-IQ children grew up to be prejudiced, racist Conservatives. In 1866 John Stuart Mill, English political philosopher and economist said, "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

And now, almost 150 years later, science has proven Mills' intuitive observation..)


"Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart."\
Phil Jackson (Retired American professional basketball coach and former player.
Born September 17, 1945)