Monday, October 18, 2010

Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance is Bliss

In Erica Goode's article "Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance is Bliss", written in 2000, Goode reveals that it was discovered through research that the incompetent people of the world are naturally unaware of how incompetent they are while those that are competent often underrate themselves or have a decent awareness of their ineptitude. Tests were administered to research this claim and they turned up positive results; lower-ranked participants were often drastically overestimating their results while those in the higher percentile often underestimated their competence.

When I read this article, it read a lot like an article out of The Onion, so part of me debates on how true this information is. I don't think I'm completely incompetent, but I don't think I'm anything special either. I'd believe there were plenty of others like myself who felt the same way. I am aware that there are people who often over or underestimate their capabilities, but I don't think someone who is inept could continue being ignorant of their ineptitude for long. Eventually shortcomings ought to be obvious and numerous enough to get noticed.

I did find the bit about humor incompetence amusing, but true. Many of those who think they can tell a good joke and repeat a poor one over and over don't seem to get that they're just not funny. I suffer from that incompetency myself. When I was a kid, I'd repeat a joke I heard a thousand times, often forgetting who I have and haven't told it to and repeating it to the same person by accident. Now I just tell jokes that I could laugh at to people when I want to break the ice, just so I can avoid telling the same ones to them later. Though that doesn't always work either. People have different senses of humor. So does that incompetency in humor apply to any sense? I'm talking about slap-stick, dry, stand-up, etc. There are many different types of humor that appeal to different people. My sense of humor is pretty extensive, but the kind I seem to laugh at the most is pretty dark. Some people wouldn't find it funny at all, but disturbing rather {or they just won't get it because half my references are obscure}.

When I think about it, I believe myself to be incompetent in many ways, but that doesn't make me a competent person for being aware of it. It just means I know my shortcomings so I don't get too cocky about it. And in a way that does prevent a lot of stupid mistakes, but it doesn't make me any more competent.

Would an article like this make an inept person more aware of themselves?
I'm not sure, but I'm a little more self-conscious now. I also remember the bit about our society's attempts to being more acceptable, such as the example given on the polite laugh to a bad joke as opposed to a sincere 'You Stink!". Has our society set itself up for incompetence? Now that would be ironic. It's like the pat on your back your parents give you for making a drawing or the nice things people say about your work in critique because they don't want to hurt your feelings. It's as if this forced sensitivity prevents those who need the feedback, or the naturally inept, from being able to identify their own shortcomings.

I'd hope that I wasn't completely incompetent, because then I could make my work with a slightly clearer conscience. I never seem to be satisfied with what I do and I always think I can do better. Wonder what that makes me...

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