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Feb 23, 2009

The Solution Is Simple

Proving Reagan wrong
02/23/09 - BobKrumm.com by Bob Krumm

"Why are they doing all this when they have to know that it isn’t going to work?” was the question my wife asked about the stimulus package.

I answered: “It’s not about fixing the economy; it’s about proving Reagan wrong.” It’s about proving that an enlightened government is superior to a country led by tens of millions of individual sovereign decision makers.

A comment by Joe Y
An insight into the simple view that many people have of the world. An explanation why hope and change is so attractive. An evaluation of President Obama's abilities.

[edited] The oddest thing about this election, was the continual leitmotif of Obama’s genius, from people that should have known better. People like Obama, of which I know and am related to far too many, are unable to seriously consider that there is any job (oil company CEO, football coach, running the local post office) that they cannot do as well or better than the person currently in the role, should they ever exert the effort to do so. It’s not a matter of faith, as faith requires a conscious effort; rather, it is a prejudice in the true sense of the word.

They believe that the government is better at running the country, because the solution to the problem, whatever the problem, is just so obvious. From their point of view, for example, the comprehensive national medical database in the Stimulus Package is obviously a good idea.

The person I was talking to said “Only idiots, paranoids, and Republicans - to repeat myself - want to stop this.” She then gave the several well-known and excellent reasons for the database, concluding with “Who could be against that?”

I replied that no one could, but what about the hundreds of thousands of medical personnel who have potential access to the database? What about the innumerable terrifying stunts that hackers, and not just American hackers, have been able to pull off in attacks on supposedly invulnerable networks? What about people not reporting medical conditions because they don’t want a record of them? What about erroneous data being mistakenly entered? What about erroneous data being deliberately entered? Of course, that was just a start.

To her credit, she got what I was saying, particularly when I applied it to our respective teenage children. A few minutes consideration revealed many problems which answer the question “It’s so obvious! What could go wrong?”.

These considerations were foreign to her, not because she was stupid (quite the opposite), but out of a prejudice that she and people like her can see the solution to any problem. That is why they attack people who disagree with them as stupid, morons, and idiots.

There is one major exception to this attitude, which is in the person's area of knowledge. Then, they are as smart and good as advertised, but rarely anywhere else.

This brings us to the President. Obama is clearly a very bright man, as anyone who becomes president has to be. But, there are a lot of smart guys around. He gives a marvelous television performance of an intellectual, but I would be grateful for a link to any genuine evidence of such.

Like most Ivy leaguers, he’s a smart operator and a dedicated hustler obsessed with accomplishment. Like almost all Harvard men and women, he lacks an aptitude for self-doubt and humility, which people usually, and a bit unfairly, mistake for Harvard arrogance. He is superb at his chosen field; but that field is not being President, it is becoming President.

Dunning-Kruger effect: The hubris of the incompetent
10/31/09 - Neo-Neocon

Quip: I could do that better than you, if I wanted to.

Wikipedia [edited]: The Dunning–Kruger effect is a bias in thinking. People may make bad choices, and be incompetent to realize it.

The unskilled overrate their own ability as above average. The highly-skilled underrate their abilities, often below the self-rating of the unskilled.

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, because competent individuals wrongly assume that others are also competent. The incompetent misjudges himself, whereas the highly competent misjudges others.

Incompetent individuals:

  • Tend to overestimate their own level of skill, and do not recognize their true inadequacy.
  • Fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
  • Can come to recognize and acknowledge their previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level.

Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect
12/08/09 - Chicago Boyz - comment by Michael Kennedy
Quote by Michael Crighton at GoodReads

We give too much credit to people who speak with authority about subjects we don't know well.

[edited] You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article actually presents the story backwards, reversing cause and effect. I call these “Wet Streets Cause Rain” stories. The paper is full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

This is The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

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