Why Incompetent People Think They Are Amazing

I know the title of this post will get quite a bit of attention because it mirrors someone we all know.  It is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Here is a quote from an article about it:

“When psychologists Dunning and [Justin] Kruger first described the effect in 1999, they argued that people lacking knowledge and skill in particular areas suffer a double curse. First, they make mistakes and reach poor decisions. But second, those same knowledge gaps also prevent them from catching their errors. In other words, poor performers lack the very expertise needed to recognize how badly they’re doing.”

Source: Vox.com

Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to the obvious example of the current Oval Office occupant. In fact, there are probably millions of incompetent people across America and the world who think they are great simply because they have not taken the time to learn more about the subject at hand.  But maybe the biggest problem with thinking you are smarter than you are is that you then go on to make horrible decisions based on your incompetence.

In closing one of my favorite sayings that I learned many years ago in college is  “You don’t have to know what you are saying, as long as you say it with authority”. Little did I know that someday those words would become the modus-operandi of a supposed world leader!

Explaining Our Times…

Ok, I admit that I have been retired from the workforce for almost two decades now, so aside from what I read I am pretty much ignorant of it. When I left the workforce the mantra was “Do more with less”. Many of my coworkers were being laid off and I was told that I had to do their jobs in addition to my own.  I couldn’t imagine a more stressful situation today.

When I came across this article by By Ruth Whippman in the New York Times it helped me to have more empathy for today’s middle-class workers.  Ms. Whippman is the author of “America the Anxious: Why Our Search for Happiness Is Driving Us Crazy and How to Find It for Real.” I think I will pick up an e-copy of her book to understand it more. Here are the snippets from the article I want to concentrate on:

In this cutthroat human marketplace, we are worth only as much as the sum of our metrics, so checking those metrics can become obsessive. What’s my Amazon ranking? How many likes? How many retweets? How many followers? (The word “followers” is in itself a clear indicator of something psychologically unhealthy going on — the standard term for the people we now spend the bulk of our time with sounds less like a functioning human relationship than the P.R. materials of the Branch Davidians.)…

This is the future, and research suggests that it’s a rat race that is already taking a severe toll on our psyches. A 2017 study suggests that this trend toward increasingly market-driven human interaction is making us paranoid, jittery, self-critical and judgmental.

Source: New York Times Nov 24, 2018

One of the two main points of this article is that more and more companies are outsourcing their work. They no longer employ their own workforce but instead contract it out. 

The second point is that our social media has become critical to our future success. We need to show that we are popular and influential in order to get that “perfect” job. If our “likes” aren’t high enough it will raise suspicion. Being told that finding that perfect job is now totally our responsibility. That alone is tons of pressure for so many young people.  It’s no wonder that the suicide rate among this young group is so high!

I’m going to stop here with this particular post. But I suspect that I will be revisiting this topic in more detail after I have read the author’s book.

Bluster…

David Brooks from the New York Times and the PBS Newshour recently used a word I haven’t heard in a long time. That word is the title of this post and here is the definition. This word just seems soooo appropriate for someone we all know. I don’t even have to mention his name.  

If there is any single word that can possibly contain who this guy is, bluster is it. He is certainly loud, totally aggressive, as indignant as anyone I could ever imagine.  He refuses to believe in facts other than the ones he made up.

But I think the last part of this definition will certainly apply now that we have a Democratic House of Representatives.  They will do their best to assure that aggressive indignant bluster has little effect.  All we have to do now is to sit back and wait for January 20, 2021, and he can take his bluster wherever he wants, as long as it is out of my sight.

Good riddance to horrid bluster.

Thanks David for resurrecting this word for me…

My Essence Statement – Who I Am

In a recent post, I declared myself as living a joyous life of a nuanced skeptic. This post will flesh out that description as to make you even more confused. 🙂 

Now in my old age, I am convinced that it takes almost a lifetime to determine just what your personal essence is.  We can all describe ourselves at various points in our lives but to find the essence of you is much more difficult. Maybe the difficult part is to do it in just a few words. I have been playing with the words above for several weeks now. Ever since I read a related post over at my friend Bob’s blog at Satisfying Retirement I have been struggling to find just the right words to describe my life.  I think this description pretty much sums it up for me.

Let’s go through my self-description word by word. As Bob pointed out there is a difference between happiness and joy. If I remember it right he proclaimed that happiness is a short temporary thing whereas joy is a state of being.  If you are really joyous it will get you through the darker periods that crush happiness.  I kinda like that definition so it heads up my essence statement.  The term“Essence Statement” is kind of provocative; I think I will use it often going forward. 🙃

Nuanced is a word that might not be familiar to all of you.  I had to look it up just to make sure it is precisely what I wanted. As you can see it is about shades of grey. That is looking at the small things to make a difference in the big things.  Unlike some of my more conservative friends, I am definitely not a black/white person. To me, everything is shades of grey.

Now on to the last word which is a skeptic. To me, being skeptical means that I question almost everything and try to think for myself in most situations that I encounter in life.  Many of those areas are when science and folklore/tradition collide. That kind of skepticism which is very natural to me, got me thrown out of a Luthern church because I didn’t believe what I was “supposed” to. But in most other areas of life skepticism, at least my version of it has made my life fuller.  I don’t criticize to tear things down, I criticize to make them better.

I lead a joyous life of a nuanced skeptic.

How about you; what is your essence statement?

Who Are You??

Like most of us, people often ask me who I am?  When we are in our employment years we often answer with our current occupation.  For me, that was an IT/Database developer. Depending on who is asking we sometimes give a different answer.

But in reality, it takes years and often an entire lifetime to determine who we really are. Throughout our lives, we struggle with one thing or another and those struggles are a big part of what forms who we are.

They say that diversity builds character and I can certainly attest to that fact. Living in poverty and financially struggling through college gave me an extra dose of empathy for those who had it worse than me.

Changing the subject slightly, as our constitution says we all have the right to our “pursuit of happiness” but just what is happiness? Does it come in bursts or is it more long lasting? I’m not sure I yet have an answer to that but I do know that I am now a joyous person. It has taken years to get here but finally, in my senior years, I have accomplished being joyous.

If we think about it enough we can come up with the perfect answer to this common question of who we are.  I think I have finally found my answer:

I live a joyous life of a nuanced skeptic

That is who I am. But how did I get here? I will save that for a near future post.

How about you?? Who are you?

Offering Hope Is A Hard Sell…

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I am bound and determined to not give up hope here on RJsCorner. I will just not let the current times and the occupant of the Oval Office and his cronies deprive me of hope.  But, offering hope is a hard sell, especially now.  I have seen so many of my blogging friends who have gotten totally negative about the world today. They, and sometimes I, just want to roll up in a cocoon and let the world pass by. Plainly speaking we are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and who can blame us!! Some seem to just give up while there are others like me who are stretching for hope wherever we can find it.

Yes, these are tough times but believe it or not we have been in worse. What got us out of those previous ditches was the hope and action of people determined to not give up. It was important that our national leaders were some of the biggest hope creators. This time around the exact opposite seems to be true.

Let’s face it, basically, there are two types of people in the world today. The Left people are driven by hope and the Right are driven by fear and it is pretty obvious that the Right people are the ones in charge right now. There is certainly a lot of fear in the world today.

Going forward I have vowed to do my part in selling hope.  The alternative is just totally unacceptable.