A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
After years of trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with our society, last week (quite by accident) I discovered the problem. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect and it’s the reason our world is riding the Express bus to Crazy Town.
For those of you who haven’t googled it already, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is some serious scientific blah, blah, blah that boils down to this — incompetent people don’t know they’re incompetent. In fact, they generally believe they’re actually good at what they do. (Explains a lot, doesn’t it?)
Okay, this has been accepted folk wisdom since the time of Socrates. Most of us kinda know the world is full of arrogant assholes who haven’t got a clue; documenting it has just confirmed our suspicions. However (and this is the scary bit) given the recent research, there’s a lot of speculation that this phenom is actually growing. OMG!
The problem is, the 21st century has created a perfect storm for the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Here’s how it works. In our totally connected world, any nitwit can post the most cringe-worthy crap on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. and within seconds, tons of people are calling it “incredible,” “amazing” and “awesome.” This just adds fuel to the fire. Now, throw in an unhealthy dose of celebrity worship, and suddenly the flames of nitwittery are out of control. Let’s take a look:
Gwyneth Paltrow is a decent actress. She was a great Polly Perkins and an acceptable “Pepper” Potts. She has millions of fans. But, here’s the deal, folks: she’s not a health care professional. Her lifestyle, health and welfare company GOOP is nothing more than a walking encyclopedia of quackery, chicanery and out-and-out stupidity. Yet she boasts millions of disciples.
Jim Carrey, a comedian with zero medical credentials, talks about vaccinations as if he were the Surgeon-General.
Leonardo DiCaprio (a spectacularly gifted actor who didn’t finish high school, BTW) truly believes he has the inside scoop on climate change.
Bono, Sting and Sir Bob Geldorf, a crew of used-to-be musicians, walk with presidents and prime ministers, chatting about the causes and cures of poverty, disease and starvation – and they’re taken seriously.
Russell Brand is not an economist. Neither is Tom Morello. And, it’s no stretch to say the accumulated political expertise of Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Angelina Jolie is the ability to cry on cue.
And it goes on and on — from fly-by-night diets to Flat Earth athletes.
But the Oprah Winfrey Award for arrogant incompetence has got to go to Kanye West. Mr. Kardashian, who freely admits he doesn’t read history books, somehow came to the incredible conclusion that slavery was a choice. A CHOICE! And this guy has 27 million plus Twitter followers!
This is insanity, people!
But here’s the scariest of the scary bits. I haven’t even mentioned the Big Kahuna, the poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the beginning, middle and the end of most arguments in 2019 — a certain politician who’s presumably the leader of the free world. Now, that is scary!