Baffled by the incompetence of others? Aware of your own?

We’ve often been amazed that the perpetrators of Outrageous deeds seem so  ignorant of just how profoundly incompetent they really are. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger may have found the answer.

According to their recently published research, there seems to be an inverse relationship between competence and confidence. Dr. Dunning of Cornell and Dr. Kruger of the University of Illinois tested groups of people on a wide variety of skills and found that those who scored poorest often had a very high opinion of their own abilities. Why? Simple – the skills required for competence tend to be the same skills required to recognize competence, or the lack thereof, in yourself and others. Conversely, those who were really skilled tended to doubt their abilities.

The research subjects were tested on logic, English grammar, and humor. Results showed that those who scored in the lowest quartile were most likely to dramatically overestimate their own abilities. For instance, on the test of logical reasoning, subjects scoring in the 12th percentile guessed they had scored in the 62nd percentile. Those who scored in the 10th percentile on the grammar test guessed that they had scored in the 61st percentile.

What’s the cause of all this excessive self-confidence? Too much emphasis on self-esteem in American school systems? Over-exposure to our upbeat friends at the Positive Press web site? We’re not sure, but we do find this research very helpful in understanding why the jurors with most outrageous verdicts seem to arrive at them in the shortest time, why the Hillary Clinton’s of the world are so dogmatic in their pronouncements, and why Benny is always the only one laughing when he tells a joke.

Here at the Outrage we’ve always been keenly aware of the shortcomings of others, and we’d be the first to recognize our own, if we had any. Egghead academics aside, we remain supremely confident in our culinary skills – the death of an occasional dinner guest is the result of impurities in the local water supply. And we sound like Sinatra when we sing in the shower – the dogs and cats that run away are just jealous.

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35 thoughts on “HOW GOOD ARE YOU?

  1. Come on, fellas. Was it a slow news month? In the immortal words of William Penn, “Everyone’s odd save thee and me, my friend, and even thee is a little odd by times.”

  2. O remember reading somewhere that every man thinks he is a great lover, mechanic, and drive; and every woman thinks that she is a great decorator and cook and a fahsion expert. All, that is, almsot all are mistaken.


  4. What about people who do have high ability? Do they estimate themselves a little low? A lot low?

    “The whole world’s crazy except us two, and I’m not so sure about you.”

    Is this why modest but competent people are outshouted by people without a clue?

  5. Your self esteem piece reminds me of my observations of management in many large organizations
    Have you ever noticed how much light weight stuff floats to the top?
    Actually it is quite logical when you consider that in large organizations a sure way to
    disfavor is to rock the boat. Rocking the boat is charateristic of brighter people not the dullards.
    Consider too that the number one reason for getting a promotion is usually wanting that
    promotion, not being qualified for it. There is another factor that was discovered a few years ago
    called the “shared madness syndrome”. It was found that people usually start to think like their
    superiors when they are promoted regardless of their opinions before promotion.

  6. I don’t understand why you all don’t recognize my brilliance when you see it! How do you like my “New Clothes”

  7. Why is it that the most ignorant people have high opinions of themselves? Perhaps it is because of the “perfect people” in life are made to believe that they are indeed “perfect” when in fact they are lacking in an area such as mental ability. Whatever the reason is people are all lacking in some way or another…some just are lacking a hell of a lot more than me…

    Re: Rage! When I was a young man, I percived enlightenment and with age that turned into anger. A few more years and anger became hostility and finally evolved into what I beleaved true rage to be. That 5 to 10 years of rage did the most serious damage to my physical and mentel health. Around 45 I resorted to apathy in order to survive, (To late)

  8. My comment concerning the scientific discovery that the incompetent overrate their capabilities:
    WELL, DUH.
    And once again, science triumphs in proving, via route of painstaking years of experimentation and countless piles of taxpayer’s dollars, what every damnable fool already knows.

  9. While I am outraged at the same things you are I also get outraged when “they”, you or the establishment, use prob/statistics to confuse people with numbers. How many of your readers understand percentiles?
    If you don’t understand “it” does it have any “true” meaning?

  10. Just a short anecdote of overestimatining one’s ability:
    In my Advanced Placement English class, we were discussing gender rolls. One particular person who constantly brags about her ability to be politically correct and VERY diplomatic laments that men are the source of all problems in society. Her reasoning?? Good question. She bases this on two reasons. 1) there are way more male murderers in jails and 2) She insists it was Adam that made Eve eat the apple, thus it is the male that brought evil into the world. So not only is she totally politically incorrect, she can’t even get her Biblical Allusions correct!

  11. I am particularly outraged at the fact that it seems the people who think they are most
    sophisticated and worldly can be the most naive people there are. I am continually stunned at how quickly people judge others based on first impressions. The saying that first impressions are the only impressions but first impressions can be very misleading. DUH, Jeffrey Dahmer looked like the All-American boy-next door type; he was quite handsome; he was also a monster and the fact that he looked so mild mannered is probably what lured so many people to him.
    Sorry about the analogy but it was the most graphic one I could think of. Please email your comments to: hgarnett@freepcmail.com

  12. Their have been many outraged persons I have observed
    Suggesting that the terminally stupid should be dragged out
    into the street and shot. While I can definitely sympathize
    with this attitude, it simply is not responsible or enlightened
    behavoir for these so-called intelligent people. I suggest
    dispencing radiation guns to those who score high anough
    on IQ evaluations, thereby they could simply renders those
    displaying erraticly incompitent behavoir sterile in order to
    purify the gene pool. Ofcourse the hole in this plan is that
    the people most likely to actually use such a device are those
    least likely to qualify unless, like myself, they were sociopaths.
    By far the best solution would be to simply take steps to insure
    the incompitent didn’t rise into sensitive areas of society,
    judging from the current statis quo in government and industry
    we still have quite a long way to go so in the mean while the
    rest of us will have to contend ourselves with stabing sharp
    objects in the thighs during displays of the acts of profound
    stupidity. Thank You

  13. Having worked in retail management for several years, I’m quite certain that, despite the fact I hold what some feel to me a menial position, I’m superior to most of the customers who frequent my establishment. Who, in a reasonably sane frame of mind, thinks that the cashier wants to hear about the rotten day he’s having when the question “how are you today?” is posed? To those who don’t understand the term “rhetorical question”, please do all retail personnel and the customers behind you a favour and look it up. A simple “I’m fine, thanks” is sufficient. And another thing; please have your order and money ready upon approaching the counter. Nothing is more annoying than someone who feels the need to deploy a manned mission to the bottom of her purse to find exact change while 17 people who know what they want and have money in hand wait impatiently in line behind her. I suppose common sense and common courtesy aren’t so COMMON after all.

  14. I agree with Kellie.I worked in pharmacy for four years and I learned never to ask people how they are, because they tell you. I also completely agree with the whole thinfg about counting out pennies while 17 people line up . There isn’t always the manpower available in a store to combat that issue, so it helps if customers use common sense and good judgement, which, as Kellie so aptly points out, is not so common. Anyway, I love this site so far!

  15. I am outraged at our law enforcement in the USA. I am from a small county in Texas and the Law enforcemnt does not do their job. They are liars and very uneducated. The outrage I am talking about happened in Sept. of last year. My son was killed by a gun shot wound to the left side of his head, he was right handed, and with-in secounds of walking into his home he was judged suicide. We know better, I spoke to my son only 4 hours before this happened and he was fine. He was coming to by house the next morning for a hair cut. The Sheriffs department, Kent Henson, the sheriff did not even go into the room where my son was. A 23yr old was placed in charge of the case, all he could tell me the morning of the death was that they were going to find a note and that this was not like TV. Well I am not a complete idiot. But we were told all of the tests where given for a homicide, and in truth it was for suicide. Therefore no test were conducted. The whole investigaiton lasted only a hour and a half. The next day my sons house was ran-sacked we couldn’t even get the Lufkin Sheriffs department to come down here. We were told the case was closed. Now I am outraged. The latest we have found out is that this same department that ruled this a suicide in the 1st place has been telling the paper and the Texas Rangers, had it been left up to them they would have ruled this an accident. They are talking out of both sides of their heads. I will do whatever it takes to see justice down in this case. I have the rest of my life. The mother of Corey Wood

  16. Yeah, I’ve about had it. It’s this thing where these people draw a line in the sand, and say, “Everybody on that side is nuts. We over here are not.”
    It’s for their sense of security. They want to label a fraction of the population as
    undeniably crazy, so they can feel sane. Well, I just happen to be one of those labeled people. And, from years of watching those who proclaim their sanity,
    I see that I am smarter than 95% of the people on earth, and yet saner than 98%.
    Even the shrinks quick to smack on those labels, are crazier than hell, most of them anyhow. I hope this makes you, whoever is reading this, feel better privately. You know its true, of course.
    We’re all nuts. I’ll wear the label, take the jeers and jokes, all so you can feel nice and secure in your sanity. I should probably get a medal or something for it though.

  17. I think the “self Esteem”
    article is right on! The biggest culprits are CPA’s.
    Somehow passing the exam for these people,makes them an “Expert” in all fields.Thesepeople are extremly dangerous when they manipulate thier way into the Marketing and sales areas.

  18. A person goes into a meeting with a direct supervisor and the supervisor over that one. When having a history of mistakes pointed out as inadequate, the individual says “What incentive do I have to improve?”
    The person was not immediately fired, but was given time to improve!
    I say it ain’t possible. Oh, and did I tell you the person worked in a lab?
    Note: all gender is left out of this to protect the outgraged!

  19. Gosh, and I thought I was the only one who thought 98% of people weren’t worth talking to. To the Retail folks. If you don’t want to know how someone is, Don’t ask. How about a simple statement. Like. Isn’t it a fine day. said with a wide smile. The older I get the more I find people are amusing and cheaper than a theatre ticket.
    Besides, who was the idiot that developed rhetorical questions? Then there is the nod. Who does it first?

  20. When I start ragging on people, I always get caught up in that “hey, I’m better than this” line of reasoning. You know, get guilty.

    I hate that. I turn all inrospective and start getting insecure in my superiority.

    Times like this, I look for a mirror nearby. I then repeat the following mantras to my doppleganger in hopes of reaffirming my station in life:

    • I am a human.
    • I am one of many.
    • ‘Many’ is a lot of humans!
    • These humans are like ants.
    • I’m an ant too, but I’m a better ant, because I can lift big leaves and I sill have all my legs. Plus, I spend 87% of my time walking towards food or the ant hill and only 13% of it wanding around aimlessly. Compare that to the average ant/human who spends 64% of the time wandering.
    • I may just be another ant to the rest of my fellow ants, but to horses, I am their all powerful lord and savior.

    Try this little mental exorcise… the next time you’re feeling down, except take horses and insert an animal species that stares at you more than they usually stare at other people.

    ‘•-May the Horse of Borderline Personality Disorder rideth with you, and confort-•’

  21. Folks, if you ever wondered why (federal) government policies never work, this Outrage shows the reason. After all, most people who are willing to RUN for government office (or to manage a large government bureaucracy like EPA, OSHA, NHTSA, HUD, etc.) do so for one of two reasons:

    1) They want power for themselves. It would be lucky indeed if that which increased government’s power was also good for its citizens.

    2) They believe they’re smarter and/or more moral than everybody else, and therefore ought to be in charge. According to the Outrage here, this means that they are probably LESS intelligent or moral than the average person! Again, it would be pure luck if “solutions” proposed by these folks actually benefitted the citizens of the U.S.

    Here comes the plug: in this election, consider voting for the folks who think the average citizen is smarter than the government, and therefore think government ought to be the smallest size necessary. Vote Libertarian.

  22. I used to NOT feel very self confident but took the opinions of
    others to be more important than my own, although I often
    disagreed with them.

    I took an IQ test and found I had an IQ of 152. Now I feel
    confident that I actually do, most of the time, know better.

    Self-confidence is good but only if you make the grade. It
    prompts you to make the right decision even though others
    would have you act differently.


  24. I agree, confidence is all important. I’d like to see some of thes know it all’s climb a 400 ‘ radio tower like I have on a windy day.
    how many of america’s gun owners have spend a vacation where the honest taxpayer cannot get a gun carry permit?you aught to have read the E-mail I sent cleveland city council!!!!
    We went to the south last year and next year will go to Florida to avoid the anti gun locations and will never spend another vacation in Ohio.

  25. I have read all of the comments on this rage. I can see that many people cannot spell. Read more and don’t post anything unless you proofread it first. I helps to validate your rage!

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