Chris Bowness Landscape | Thinking About Stupid

 Thoughts About Stupid

Stupid is as Stupid Does - Forest Gump

We generally like to feel that we are intelligent, social media and the Internet now gives us all a platform to show our true shiny selves to the world, or not in most cases. We love those who agree with our opinions, which we delight in sharing with anyone who will listen. We tend to avoid those who don’t agree with us and we socialise and party with those who do. Birds of a feather flock together. 

A couple of years ago I read about the Dunning-Kruger effect, it opened my eyes to myself as I realised how stupid I actually was. I realised that the Dunning-Kruger effect spans all aspects of my life, from professional matters through to social interaction and relationship abilities - I am really dumb. I had thought myself up to then to be reasonably competent, but I quickly realised how stupid I am in so many aspects of life. After a period of time it has become very liberating and indeed a great relief to realise how stupid I have been and indeed how stupid I still am! 

The fact that I am writing this is a testament to my stupidity as apart from probably insulting anyone who actually reads this, someone else with greater knowledge may come by one day and then systematically dismantle my viewpoint! That is the Dunning-Kruger effect though and realising this will me save me (some) personal embarrassment, as I already understood my lack of knowledge and therefore instead of harbouring resentment for having my current level of understanding systematically dismantled, I will accept my now obvious stupidity and learn from it. (punctuation anyone?) 

So what is the Dunning-Kruger effect? Here is an explanation from rational Wiki

The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyse their performance, leading to a significant overestimate of themselves.
In simple words it's "people who are too stupid to know how stupid they are".

That is me right there, I can only speak for myself of course,  how can I judge someone else without being an expert on them? I can say however, that I have found we are all generally better at some things than others, but we will all be stupid at other things too - how can it be any other way?

Now, I mentioned the word expert,  I have been introduced professionally to people as an "expert" and I inwardly cringe when it is mentioned. I do know more than most lay people about my job as I spend 8 hours a day on it, but I certainly am not omnipotent in my field - I am presented with new challenges constantly and it is bad enough just treading water.  People want experts, maybe it is just me, but when an expert is introduced people seem to relax and not worry anymore as the expert is on the case. It is a false sense of security, as the expert is only more practiced in their field than most; but who is to say that the expert has not got plenty practice in doing things wrong (economics?), or to reach an outcome that is most beneficial to themselves? (economics?) 
Such is the Dunning Kruger effect, even the understanding of a simple word needs very careful consideration whenever it is used to describe something or someone.

How many times do you hear someone you know describe a certain politician or party as being stupid or useless?  This is generally my viewpoint until the Dunning Kruger effect made me realise that they too are subject to the same Dunning-Kruger described effects as me! The fact is I, like most citizens, want a politician to have my best interests at heart. A surrogate parent looking out for me and my neighbours by taking care of “things” for us. Politicians are however experts surrounded by experts and we are therefore unable to understand what they are doing. We can only really decide with our limited grasp that they are either stupid, or out of touch ideologically with their citizens. 

They and their team of experts could however be working on agendas that are totally against our best interests, so out there and against us that we can only see it as stupid, as it is otherwise incomprehensible to us. Just saying like - What would I know? Remember Dunning-Kruger! 

When we look at our predicament,  7 billion people, horrific wars, a collapsing ecosystem, disposable everything, so many problems, where are the answers? Does anything else matter?  We of course have experts to save us, they always do, science will save us! It is a bit of a pity though that all the brilliant people have ended up where the money is, on the stock markets - or so I was told...

We conform, it was horrible to sit in class and have to keep asking the teacher to clarify something,  they don't have the time what with the busy curriculum. We leave school, so full of potential,  we are primed and have been prepared to get a job. Unfortunately in many cases young people are unable to get a job, despite only having been prepared for this one outcome. 
We fall into crowds depending on circumstances, we are attracted to certain things and conform to that definition, we are shaped and molded by the opinions of others and here we are standing with a smart phone...

We have advanced so much, look how far we have come, there is a lot to be proud about. 

Pride comes before a fall - remember, the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits - Albert Einstein

Here’s all you have to know about men and woman: Women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is because men are stupid. - George Carling