Over Confidence: Human Blindness

arrogance noseAsk 100 people your age, your sex and roughly your background to estimate on a scale of 0 to 100, where they think they fall on sense of humor or driving skills? It ends up that about 95% will put themselves above average (50%). This proves one or both of the following:
a) Many of us overestimate ourselves
b) Many of us underestimate others

Therefore we can only assume that if we asked the same folks to rate how carefully they have thought out their position on the existence of a god we’d find a disturbingly high number of over-raters.  It would not matter if those people asked were Theists or Atheists !

NOW!  Ask all those folks to rate themselves on overrating themselves or underestimating others !

Linguistic Note: The nose & overconfidence seem to be related.  “Arrogance” in Japanese is “HanaTaka” which means “long/tall nose”. English uses stuck up to describe the nose display for this emotion. Interesting, eh?

Source:  This is very old information, of course, and here is one source hinting at these finding (sorry, can’t find the real McCoy).


Filed under Critical Thinking, Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to “Over Confidence: Human Blindness

  1. Ian

    It is normally called The Lake Wobegon effect


    but I’m not sure the first paper that described it. Seems its been one of those things that has been known of old, but loads of studies have proved.

  2. There’s also something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    What the article highlights isn’t just that people tend to overestimate their abilities, it’s that the more incompetent someone is at a particular task, the more likely they are to overestimate their ability. Talented people, on the other hand, tend to have a more accurate depiction of their own skill level.

    It’s very interesting and it seems to be an observable phenomenon in daily life.

  3. Pseudonym

    One thing that’s often not mentioned is that it’s possible for this 95% of people to all be correct.

    What constitutes “good driving” or “good sense of humour” is highly subjective.

    I find Sacha Baron Cohen, for example, pretty painful to watch when he’s doing his own material. (But when he’s performing someone else’s material, he’s nothing short of brilliant. Go figure.) A lot of people disagree with me on this.

    Similarly, one person may think of themselves as a safe driver. Someone else may consider themselves a courteous driver, a law-abiding driver or having particular skills in difficult situations (e.g. driving off-road). It’s not unreasonable to expect that what you’re good at is highly correlated with what you think constitutes “good driving”. By their own measures, therefore, 95% of drivers probably are above-average drivers.

  4. P Buddery

    Driving ability and senses of humour are things that are important to many people. But what of other abilities, like social skills, cooking prowess, the ability to clean a house or to dress to convey the impression of success? I am poor at all of these, and I have a sort of idea that many other people also acknowledge their lack of talent in their weaker fields, especially if there is no social stigma attached. I wonder what science has discovered about this?

  5. Thank you all for your additions — fascinating.

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