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Science Sez: Most People Think They Are Above Average; Are Wrong

March 26, 2006 | 1 Minute Read

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I found this interesting article via digg.

It basically argues that, while most people believe they are above average in competence versus everyone else, it’s impossible for that to be true for the majority of people. It also concludes that people who think they are superior are actually unaware of their incompetance, and the more competent people might sell themselves short, because they are better able to assess their shortcomings as well as others’.

In short, the study showed that the researchers’ predictions were spot-on. Participants scoring in the bottom quartile grossly overestimated their test performance and ability, and analysis confirmed that this miscalibration was due to deficits in metacognitive skill (the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error).

This sort of begs the question: Would you rather be a confident idiot, or an unsure genius? I guess thinking about it damns you either way.

It also reminds me of the Japanese saying, baka wa kaze wo hikanai: Idiots can’t catch colds (because they’re too stupid to realize they have them).

Of course, the people who did the research could have just been overestimating themselves when they assumed they were running the experiments correctly…