The Delusions of Victors

KnowitAllWhen I play WeiQi (“Go” in English), I constantly run into players who are deluded by their victories.  Most victors are humble and polite (one reason I love the game), but some, deluded by victory make the following wrong assumptions.:

(1) I Played one game with you, I understand you: They assume that you always play the same way. One encounter and they understand you.

(2) Your Style is Wrong:  Since they won, they assume your style must be wrong. They don’t understand that if your style is played more skillfully, it may actually beat them.

I have been told “you are too aggressive”, “you were too timid”, “you played too narrow”, “you played too wide”.  So it is obvious that not only do I play different styles, but I even play  contradictory styles.

(3) My Style is the Best: Just like #2, they assume that because they are the glorious victor, that their style is the best.  Again, they don’t seem to understand that any style, in the right hands, at the right time, can win. See this post which shows how the styles of the best pros vary from each other.

(4) I won, I am more skillful: I can’t believe how many players assume that just because they won the game that their victory is purely due to only their skill — and you can see how this assumption feeds #1 and #2.. They don’t recognize the luck involved in WeiQi. “Luck”, btw, is heresy in WeiQi where people feel it is the best strategy game in the world largely because it is devoid of luck. And they’d be wrong.

(5) If I am more skillful in WeiQi, I am also smarter than you in every area of your life:   Arghhh — yeah, hard to believe, but it happens.  Obviously (well, not to them) being horrible at WeiQi may not have anything to do with my decisions skills and strategies in parenting, business, friendships.  But you would not believe how many victors are sucked into this delusion and pontificate on life in general.

The Delusions of Success

This post is really not just about WeiQi.  It is another post about our cognitive weaknesses, pitfalls, delusions and biases. I see similar  delusions of victor thinking by those who are successful in terms of money, status, the lives of their children and other arenas. I see the exact same five WeiQi mistaken ways of thinking in these everyday life folks. I will let you draw the obvious parallels.

Question to Readers: Give an example where you see this phenomena.

Pic credit: A post on wine know-it-alls!



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “The Delusions of Victors

  1. “Go” is also go in Japan, or igo. Most of the people I’ve met who enjoy the game learned it in Japan while they were studying or working there. That said, I’m also familiar with the story of the Chinese general Guan Yu, who calmly played weiqi while a surgeon sliced open his arm to remove the infected flesh. In Chinese culture, it’s regarded as an example of bravery and the calm, collected mind of a noble warrior.

    (I hope now you don’t regard my comment as trying to one-up you as in weiqi. I just wanted to toss in my two bits. 😉 )

    I do occasionally see the traits you mentioned in my karate class. I screw up one move, one of the assistant instructors corrects me: but then he or she assumes, “Oh, you’re the one who doesn’t like to spar!” (Not true, I’m just learning and it’s hard to adapt to the rhythm of an opponent who’s actively attacking me.) Or, “Oh, you poor thing, we should take it easy on you because you’re having so much trouble.” They don’t actually say it, but they convey it in so many words and their behavior. And it smarts: okay, I’m a beginner, and an old one at that. (I’m 50+ and this is my first try at a martial art.) I’m not as fast as the kids who are just learning, nor am I as able to do the kicks and spins with as much flexibility. But I do want a fair chance at trying, since that’s the only way I’m going to learn.

    I guess the only way to deal with it is to suck it up and try to prove them wrong. It doesn’t look good to lash out at the people who are trying to help you, however patronizing they seem. It also looks as if you have an “attitude problem,” whether it’s true or not. Maybe just vowing not to let the views of others affect your efforts to improve is the best way to get over it.

  2. Goodness Sabio, I hope these aren’t people you’re inviting to your home, only to have them mock you for losing! 😉

    Well it’s hard to top HG’s great comment; I actually had a hard time coming up with an example. I can tell you in my early days of vet tech school, I met some odd characters who didn’t get the whole Animal Science thing. Outside of school (diners, big gatherings etc) I had two or three people make this remark to me:

    “You’re a veterinary nurse? Why don’t you just take care of people instead?”

    That comment has so many things wrong with it I don’t know where to begin, but anyway it is an example of 3 on your list. The commenters in question, if I remember right were a nurse and a business man. Surprise surprise, I found out later they were Conservatives, and I’m pretty sure they were both evangelical Christians.

  3. @ Hangaku,
    Thanx for the stories.

    Like you, I have learned many things as a newbie from an older age. Like you, I listen carefully and am careful to ignore any arrogance or bravado. In this post, I am writing about the attitude itself, but the cognitive errors of the Victor:
    1. One encounter shows me a person
    2. If I loose, they assume my methods were wrong (instead of just sloppy, for instance)
    3. If they win, they assume their methods are right and best. They don’t understand that lots of methods succeed.
    4. Not recognizing “Luck” in our victories
    5. Assume if victorious here, you know more in every field.

    I think I will have to re-write this post to be clearer. The post is not suppose to be about bitterness for loosing or dealing cocky winners. I will try to improve it later.

    @ amelie,
    Interesting example. People assume there is a ladder of success and they know what the rungs are.

  4. TWF

    I think that #1 speaks to the same phenomenon as the “first impression”, and why it is so important. We (at least most of us) automatically categorize everything we see under labels that we have already defined, if doing so is possible. Once there, it’s hard to change the label.

  5. Note: I edited the post and hopefully clarified my points, thanks to your fine comments.

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