Live Science – The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.
Research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.
Daily Mail UK – Scientists claim voters lack the sophistication to recognize good ideas. Some voters simply do not know what is happening.
The controversial research has even been backed by Month Python star John Cleese.
In a YouTube video he says: ‘You have to be relatively intelligent to realise how stupid you are – and David Dunning, who I am proud to call a friend, has done some research into this. This explains not just Hollywood but almost the entirety of Fox News.’
For example, they found that if people lack knowledge of tax reforms, it was incredibly unlikely voters would be able to identify the candidates who are actual experts.
They found that many of the least intelligent voters were also the most unaware of their own skills.
‘To the extent that you are incompetent, you are a worse judge of incompetence in other people,’ Dunning said.
The team found that people always assess their own performance as ‘above average’ — even people who, when tested, actually perform at the very bottom of the pile.
He and colleague Justin Kruger, formerly of Cornell and now of New York University, have demonstrated again and again that people are self-delusional when it comes to their own intellectual skills. Whether the researchers are testing people’s ability to rate the funniness of jokes, the correctness of grammar, or even their own performance in a game of chess, the duo has found that people always assess their own performance as “above average” — even people who, when tested, actually perform at the very bottom of the pile.
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