February 28, 2012


How dumb is dumb?

A study out of Cornell University is awesome. Incompetent people are too incompetent to know they're incompetent.

Well, duh. I could have told them that. Geez.

Apparently, it's an all encompassing level of stoopid. They tested all kinds of things, and found that everyone taking the test believe they are above average, even if they sucked. Basically, people refuse to admit there is nothing they don't know.

This is the line I like best from the article: "It doesn’t matter what the test is about – logical reasoning, how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, grammar, the funniness of jokes." For crying out loud: I still have to call my high school English teacher to help me with my grammar, and I'm a writer. This study is just depressing on so many levels.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've been listening to a different version of this same song for years now: everything thinks they're a great driver. Everyone. Which makes me wonder about all those excellent drivers that drive into buildings, head into the ditch and drive over pedestrians. How anyone could possibly think they don't have room for improvement is shocking. How can anyone believe they are 100% on, 100% of the time?

The study actually has a point, beyond being able to finally ridicule your moronic whatever-in-law with assurance: incompetence leads to people being unable to measure the abilities of anyone else, thus making it easier for people to deny things like global warming. Or the divine nuttiness of Sarah Palin. Or the need for an affordable transit system.

I, for instance, am totally aware of what I don't know. And if I stray from the mark, I have Christopher to help guide me back. Working side by side with him at the dining room table the past few weeks has revealed this to me. Just today, I glanced over at his computer, and with the sun at the right angle, I could see his screen was covered in crud.

"You need to clean your monitor," I told him.
"I don't have the stuff," he replied.
"Just get some Windex and a paper towel clean it up," I told his horrified face.
"You do not use Windex on a computer monitor. Are you nuts?" he asked.
"I do it all the time. I just put a little on a paper towel, and mop it right up. Looks way better."
"You will destroy your monitor. Are you crazy?" I did not like the tone of this conversation.
"You just do it really quickly. It's not like you spray it on like a window. You just spritz a little on the paper towel, and take a really quick little swipe at it," I finished.
"You really believe that doing it quickly will make it better? Like your monitor won't know it's still Windex?"
"When you were little and I had to clean your face, I used to just sneak up on you and grab you and do it. It was over before you knew it, and your face was clean." I considered this an apt comparison.
"It's not a bandaid. You are crazy. And I finally know why we have to keep buying you new monitors."

I'm not even going to tell him how I clean my keyboard. Except the Lysol wipes are sitting right here. He might guess.

13 Comments:

Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Yep, then again if Cornell keeps giving the MENSA test to people who have the IQ of hamsters, their data is going to be flawed. Just sayin...Is the world getting dumber? After watching people's car accidents and stunts gone wrong on Youtube being posted daily, I'm afraid to drive three blocks to do grocery shopping.

February 28, 2012 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Zena said...

Naw, the world isn't getting dumber - we just have better-documented proof of it now. We used to be able to hide our stupidity beneath a veneer of benign collective forgetfulness. Now there's a permanent record on everyone's hard drive...

February 29, 2012 12:48 AM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

The dumb part is that someone actually pays these people to do these studies. After a one and a half week understudy period in Cancun, I have determined that I am going to apply to our loyal Canadian Government to undertake an exhaustive 40 year study on the effects of alcohol consumption on beaches and its effect on teeth. Not only (because this is an exhaustive study... the un-exhaustive version will have to omit this next bit) the parts about sugar in drinks and pointy umbrella things sticking you in the eye, but the bits about sand in your mouth, and grinding of teeth as you lay in a semi-concious stupor in the sand.

Now that I think about it, 40 years may not be enough. At a million dollars a year (for accommodation and consumables) perhaps we should just round it off to $50 million. That way I can travel business class and start collecting data on the flight down.

February 29, 2012 8:08 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I think Zena has something with that hard drive idea. Remember when we were kids and had to remember stuff, because we had no choice? Now I can look something up, use it and forget it. And that's how kids learn now, too.

It's like using a styrofoam cup for every drink you take, then throwing it away.

There's a reason I have my favourite mug. Bet you all do to.

Buzz...we once had a hamster smarter than many Mensa members who spring to mind. Sharon Stone, anyone?!

Oh, and Chris? You land the beach study, then I'll shoot for one about calculating the number of drunks on the beach around the world.

February 29, 2012 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Roz said...

You are supposed to clean your monitors with some $40 stuff you buy at Best Buy or Futur Shop which is what they probably make the most money on in the entire store. They wouldn't let me smell it as I'm convinced it's just watered down Windex. Then, you're supposed to buy a can of air to clean your keyboard. Why does the can of air wear out? It's just air. I'm eventually going to use my ice scraper to clean my monitors. (maybe the keyboard in the top rack of the dishwasher?) I'll let you know how it works.

February 29, 2012 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have special wipes at the office for cleaning our monitors. I will admit, I don't know why you can't use Windex and we probably don't keep our monitors long enough for the Windex to do anything to them anyway.


Hey Lorraine, is Ari in Knoxville with the robot club? My son left went and so far all I've heard is that he is having a great time and sleeping on the floor becuase he refuses to share a bed with another guy. I'm guessing it was Central that they shared their bus with. There is a pic of the whole crew on facebook. I can see my kid, but he isn't looking at the camera.

February 29, 2012 10:49 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

He is in Knoxville...ignoring me. I get email updates from one of the mentors, so I'm guessing if he loses a limb, someone will let me know.

As for the sleeping arrangements: Ari always asks if there's a room with a couch and grabs the couch. You must have a plan!

February 29, 2012 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Joe's first year in robotics so he hasn't figured out the fine details. I got one text and lurked his facebook to find out about the bed thing. I don't envy the teachers on that trip!

February 29, 2012 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Zena said...

Now don't go knocking the humble research grant - think how many guys in lab coats they keep off the streets in a given year. Otherwise they'd all be off mugging little old ladies and throwing rocks at windows. It would be a social calamity...

"colopre gyste." Is that the robot version of "beau geste?"

I think we should study that...

February 29, 2012 11:51 AM  
Anonymous annie said...

I am well aware of the fact that I know nothing. I think that makes me a genius. xoxo

February 29, 2012 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I blame the internet and reality tv. The dummies all get together on a site and tell each other how brilliant they are and then go forth in the world telling other dummies that since there is so many of them, they must be righter than the few smarties. Used to be people had stupid thoughts and kept them to themselves but reality tv pointed out that you could make money being stupid, so now everyone sees stupidity = rich, therefore something to achieve. As long as society rewards morons, people will go for stupid.

February 29, 2012 3:41 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

I should be a friggin' millionaire.

February 29, 2012 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As should we all be Chris

February 29, 2012 6:28 PM  

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