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Are We All Too Stupid to Realize How Stupid We Are?

By July 30, 2010December 27th, 2013Training Philosophy

Here are three quotes that are variations of the a common theme.

The less you know, the more you think you know, because you don’t know you don’t know – Ray Stevens

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know – Aristotle Onassis

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know and the more you know that you don’t know – David Byrne

I believe that I’m finally “smart” enough to realize how much I don’t know. I believe that this is a critical stage in one’s development as a lifelong learner.

Here’s an abstract from this study:

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 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 their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.


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