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  1. #1
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    The inability to see error in oneself (article)

    http://www.salon.com/env/mind_reader.../?source=yahoo

    I found this article to be great, it touches on our inability to see fault with choices that we've made. I focuses on relating this to our choices in presidential candidates. How even if we're presented with irrefutable evidence about our candidate that goes against our personal beliefs we'll still stick to our guns.

    Well, I'll stop trying to paraphrase and let you read it.

    Anyway, my point in posting this here is I think that this sort of information has a lot to do with our decision making process when we're creating art. I found the portion on how the incompetent tend to overestimate their abilities to be particularly interesting.

    A little bit of self awareness always helps.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gory View Post
    http://www.salon.com/env/mind_reader.../?source=yahoo
    Anyway, my point in posting this here is I think that this sort of information has a lot to do with our decision making process when we're creating art. I found the portion on how the incompetent tend to overestimate their abilities to be particularly interesting.
    The competent think they are competent, and the incompetent think they are competent. Apparently everyone believes themselves to be competent and continues to believe this untill they are.

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    good read
    "Every little step considered one at a time is not terribly daunting" - Ethan Coen

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    and then there are those of us who see fault in everything we do...

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    Feelings of absolute certainty and utter conviction are not rational deliberate conclusions; they are involuntary mental sensations generated by the brain. Like other powerful mental states such as love, anger and fear, they are extraordinarily difficult to dislodge through rational arguments. Just as it's nearly impossible to reason with someone who's enraged and combative, refuting or diminishing one's sense of certainty is extraordinarily difficult. Certainty is neither created by nor dispelled by reason.
    I remember this paper coming up in a philosophy of technology course I took at state. The Kruger and Dunning one I mean. I think the arch of the discussion was something like, is rationality and logical argument just a waste of time then? With the 'overestimation of ability/inability to see error in oneself or others' as a corollary to that. I spent some time studying logic and forensics in school, and just watching the informal debates, you can see that it's not so much the information or the logic that wins someone over to a certain position/conviction, instead its something much more subdued and basic.

    I think of vegetarianism right; So you can have these sharp thinkers like Peter Singer and Derrida who make all these excellent philosophical arguments about why we probably shouldn’t be eating these animals - and from widely divergent starting positions (Rights based arguments, ethics of care arguments, ecological arguments, all across the board) - but it still doesn't have any discernible impact on our behavior. I mean, I guess you can tell someone that they are behaving irrationally or illogically if they don’t listen to you, but that criticism has never carried much weight. Just ask Dr. Spock right - No one cares about logic. Or if they do, then they think of it as an intellectual curiosity, a subject to be debated academically. If instead of using arguments though, you just show someone a film like 'meet your meat', then the impact becomes immediate. You might watch it, and even hold onto the feeling for a few days or weeks, before relapsing into old patterns.

    Or take smoking as the classic example. You can present all the information and arguments you want, and people will continue to smoke... usually until it ends up having a noticeable effect on their health, or the health of someone they know. In part because of the nicotine, of course, but mainly because of this disconnect between what we know, and what we do. It's not because we don't have the right information, or because we can't process it and arrive at sound conclusions, it’s because information alone doesn't have an impact on us.

    That's why we need art and spectacle.

    In many respects the Sophists were on point, because if you want to really change someone's convictions, you need to put on a good show.
    Last edited by Jasonwclark; September 22nd, 2008 at 08:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonwclark View Post
    Or take smoking as the classic example. You can present all the information and arguments you want, and people will continue to smoke... usually until it ends up having a noticeable effect on their health, or the health of someone they know. In part because of the nicotine, of course, but mainly because of this disconnect between what we know, and what we do. It's not because we don't have the right information, or because we can't process it and arrive at sound conclusions, it’s because information alone doesn't have an impact on us.
    I would like to make a subtle distinction here. The logic can be rock solid, but if the information presented isn't relevant to whomever you are attempting to convince (or they don't percieve it as relevant), then the argument will fail. For example, someone who lives in an area with a highly polluted air quality that will likely give them lung cancer anyways... would probably not be as worried about smoking.

    That said, I'm not disagreeing because there are indeed many people who are swayed more by the show than the message.
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    I believe that if people were too aware of their own weaknesses they'd be clinically depressed. It's simply too much to bear. Also it might be a positive aspect to be able to believe in yourself even if the odds seem to be against you. At the same time in some situation that kind of mentality will only be negative. Like presidential elections for example. People who can't see reason or discuss those things in a intellectual manner has allways bothered me. They make up their own excuses for why the 'enemy party' is bad and then they go by these no matter how farfetched their ideas are. It's like it's more important for them to be right in the discussion itself rather than in reality.
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    Some people would rather be right than wrong. Others take it to such extremes they can't handle 'losing', and go just that far in order to not learn anything.

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    It's very telling that Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill were often racked with self-doubt (I'm sure there were others, but these pop immediately to mind).

    I think self-examination is a critical part of a healthy mind. If you cannot understand your biases, you will be walking around with a sizable intellectual blind spot, making you far easier to control.

    I think it all boils down to the general theory that people would rather feel good about their beliefs than be correct. This can be seen in a whole host of human behavior.

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    One benefit of self delusion though is that the more confident you are in being correct, the more you convince other people and ultimately become correct anyways.

    For example, an artist with a ton of confidence in his work is going to be 1000x more successful than one who isn't. A man or woman who is perhaps of average looks can easily create an attractive aura around themselves based on just confidence. Many people do not love coffee the first time they try it, but they are likely to keep trying it because so many others love it, and they will eventually develope a taste for it.

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    Thanks, a good read. I agree with most of what is written here (paradox, isn't it?), mainly because it's a fine line between overestimating your own behavior and failing to see the up-sides of it. As tobbA writes, both overestimation and underestimation can be "overdone", meaning that either you're falling into the "Yeah, you know, but still I'm right!" pattern or the "Yeah, you know, but I still suck!" pattern. I guess we all know people of both patterns. There's little to save you from falling down at either side of the spectrum, so my guess is that everyone needs both complements and criticism.

    Just look at the Sketchbook sessions and you'll see what I mean. People who are objectively good at what they do get ass-pats most of the time while people struggling with what they do get... nothing, no posts. It would be criticism, heaps of it actually, but it's way more work to give good criticism than it is to post a one-line kudos. The impact of this is that most people on the lower end of the spectrum will most likely give up because they underestimate their skills. No one responds to what they do, so it must be bad. It wouldn't take much, I think. Just some light criticism and a "Keep it up!" will do most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    One benefit of self delusion though is that the more confident you are in being correct, the more you convince other people and ultimately become correct anyways.

    For example, an artist with a ton of confidence in his work is going to be 1000x more successful than one who isn't. A man or woman who is perhaps of average looks can easily create an attractive aura around themselves based on just confidence. Many people do not love coffee the first time they try it, but they are likely to keep trying it because so many others love it, and they will eventually develope a taste for it.
    Having others agree with your isn't the same as being correct. There are also a lot more confident failures than confident successes.

    I guess I disagree with these statements on a macro level; while you can site several exceptions, I would call them contrary to the general rule.

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    One form of "self-delusion" can actually be helpful. How many of us have been afraid to put an idea down on paper because we weren't sure something stupid and minor was right or wrong--like doing a sketch from memory of a great pose idea but quitting because we couldn't remember which side of the shirt the buttons were on. If we're smart, we delude ourselves into doing whatever in spite of the problems we already see, without any misgivings.

    Fuck it. Do that bastard, and let the nitpickers go to town on the details. We have an Editorial Cartoon Challenge going on right now in POW! and I'm already noticing some problems with "getting everything right," when the primary thrust should be to get the idea across quickly. Nobody gives a fuck that the neck on your CEO in your bank-crash image is 1/2" too short, or he has lop-sided feet.

    Worrying about the details before you have a proper structure to hang those details on is a colossal form of self-delusion. To do what we do needs balls, not excuses...

    This applies across the board to everything we do. Self-delusion convinces me I'm all-knowing, so I spit out bullshit on just about every subject that comes up, knowing I'll fight to the death to prove I'm right no matter what. This is proof I'm a real moron. On the other hand, if i think--THINK--I have something to add to the commentary, even though I'm not quite sure I'm right, then I should say it anyway. If I'm wrong, I'll find out soon enough, and hpefully be informed WHY I'm wrong. If I'm right, I score a cupcake. This isn't self-delusion, it's true confidence, and trust me, you need to be confident to make mistakes..and admit them afterwards. You wanna be right ALL THE TIME, start a fuckin' religion...
    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

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  21. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogfood View Post
    Having others agree with your isn't the same as being correct. There are also a lot more confident failures than confident successes.

    I guess I disagree with these statements on a macro level; while you can site several exceptions, I would call them contrary to the general rule.
    In general, yes, simply by merit of the fact that there are a lot more failures than successes. However, if you mean that a larger percentage of failures are due to confidence than successes, then I think we don't have enough information to make that call. Failures usually go unnoticed, we have no way of knowing if they were confident or not because we don't even know who they were.

    And since when has success ever been possible without a string of failures to learn from first? Wouldn't you say that it takes confidence for someone to get up and try again? Perhapse each of those failures was a result of confidence, but would the person without confidence have the perseverance to get past the first failure?

    *edit*: I should point out though that there is a difference between self confidence and failure to see error in oneself.
    Last edited by Peter Coene; September 24th, 2008 at 03:18 PM.

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    Thanks Ilarkae.

    Okay I was a bit previous in saying that I was perfect, but I’m not going to put myself down while I’m improving. I can laugh at my earlier work and still think there is room for improvement, but there’s nothing to gain from brow beating myself over nothing. Today I’m perfect, tomorrow I’ll be better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogfood View Post
    Having others agree with your isn't the same as being correct. There are also a lot more confident failures than confident successes.

    I guess I disagree with these statements on a macro level; while you can site several exceptions, I would call them contrary to the general rule.
    Well, there are a lot more failures than successes period. You could generally predict failure for almost any endeavor and end up being right more often than wrong.

    I suppose what I should have said was that lack of confidence will certainly kill your chances, where as confidence, even if it's a little misplaced, will eventually lead to some successes, which tend to be built upon.

    Absolute inability to see your flaws, and thus improve, is a serious shortcoming, however a general optimism and the ability to somewhat ignore minor shortcomings will lead to success. To take artists again as an example, many artists look at their work and see that it doesn't hold up against the artists they admire most, and they get discouraged. Maybe they give up, or maybe they eternally work on their portfolio thinking "I'm still not there" without realizing they are already quite employable. Other artists, maybe a little self blinded by their own talent (even if it's flawed) put their work out there, seek jobs, get job experience, and eventually make it to where they want to be. Maybe they were somewhat unaware of how many problems there was with their art, but many will realize it in hindsight "wow, I used to think this was so cool, but now I know better," because they've improved.

    It's only a problem if you are both unaware and unable to improve.

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    Nice article. It kinda hits me in the gut somehow though (I admit I did have this problem sometimes -- overestimating my ability and overestimating others) should stop doing that...should stop doing that...

    I guess the best thing, again, is go to the middle area, no? Try to objectively estimating one's ability and comparing it to others. And agreed with above posters, the need to improve and get better is absolutely necessary.

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    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

    I remember reading that quote by Bertrand Russell as a kid. By default, self-criticism of any kind is not part of our biological nature, self delusion in humans is likely part of our evolutionary heritage, a survival mechanism that we wish we'd outgrown, but really haven't, just like the inherent violent traits that flare up so often. All of us, including myself, would very much by nature like to believe that we are somehow superior to our fellow man in some regard another, that our perception of the world and our existence is somehow more significant than others, that we are 1337 and never wrong. Until we fail, of course. Ha. Given that this is literally human nature, it is especially difficult for people who are not even aware of this behavioural hardcoding to avoid.

    With and open mind and knowledge/understanding of ourselves, our brains and intellectual capacity are not incapable of overcoming at least to some extent our inherent shortcomings. Unfortunately more often than not, this is not the case with most of us who do not like to follow uncomfortable trains of thought to where they may end up. How often is it that we question ideas/feelings we have always held to be true and unquestionable?

    Optimism, motivation and hard work are often lauded as infallible ideals, but i have seen more blindly optimistic people fail in my life than i can care to recall, simply because their optimism was not tempered by a sense of realism, or any self-examinatory process that guided their approach to their work. Simply - they weren't thinking too much. So often in life you hear much praise for the human spirit, but so little for the human brain. Motivation, a positive working attitude - these are the basic requirements for success of any kind - they alone DO NOT guarantee success, although the contrary is a popular idea.

    Self delusion - like some religions i can think of (but not yours!!!), is a crutch to many people, and getting off that crutch may be a bit too frightening for many people to accept, in fact a lot of 'em would sooner die. There comes a point i think, where self-delusion can become so deeply entrenched in our heads it can be impossible to weed out. Let us stop for a second and remember that this is only a perspective - self-delusion is not necessarily something "evil" and to be "overcome" - without self-delusion - the pyramids would never have been built, the crusades would never have happened, the great wall of china would still be mud in the river and americans wouldn't be in iraq. Self-delusion is an integral part of human society, without it, you'd have no obedient workers, no effective way of control, no way to enforce order upon chaos. As repulsive as i find the idea, perhaps it is worth considering that we are just another animal species after all, far from perfect. All existing human civilizations, when you think about it, are built upon seas of blood. Ants have a form of collective consciousness, consider that we may have similar systems to keep the wheels of society spinning, a system that is not immediately noticeable from an observer within, but obvious to one removed. This sytem is called "bullshit".

    Not to get confidence confused with self-delusion here -
    Confidence is coming up with generally favourable odds during a realistic assessment of the situation, then going with those odds in the face of possible failure, well knowing that the chance of failure is very real, and not just something that happens to other people.
    Self-delusion, in this sense, is the systemic bullshitting of oneself that a stupid brain, a persistent pair of hands(and feet) and a strong belief/mission statement will bend reality to your wishful thinking.

    All life can be seen as a learning process - in order to do any of that learning, first we must open our eyes - and not just to the compartmentalised aspects of critical analysis we are comfortable with (meaning other people), but also ourselves as well. We are simply not as clever, sophisticated, charming, intelligent or as talented as we would like to think we are, and the sooner we can see our flaws, the less fuckups we'll have in the future.
    Last edited by Farsh; September 24th, 2008 at 10:28 PM.

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    What inability?

    Attachment 473567

    When I draw I sometimes pretend that a rather blunt person is standing behind me, constantly spewing out crits. It helps to project it like that.
    Jamen jag tror att han skäms, och har gömt sig. Vårt universum det är en av dom otaliga spermasatser som Herren i sin självhärliga ensamhet har runkat fram för å besudla intet.

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    Interesting article on faith. I'd be wanting to know how the low-scoring individuals in the tests reacted when shown their actual scores. Was it a reality check or did they continue to believe in their superiority above and beyond the logical facts of the matter?

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