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Thread: Dunning, Kruger, and Carbonaro

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    Dunning, Kruger, and Carbonaro

    Last night I spent a completely unreasonable amount of time on Youtube watching old Carbonaro Effect episodes.
    It's a "Hidden Camera" show where people are pranked by a street magician... common pranks are showing them impossible products (a window cleaner that cleans "both sides" at once.. a tiny object that contains many very large objects... blowing bubbles that turn into glass...) all basic sleight of hand tricks that convince people something impossible is happening.

    The thing is... it's impossible. The most logical conclusion anyone watching him should have is that he is performing a trick. Physics... very basic physics.. and common sense... all out the door. He is a pretty funny con artist too.

    Every setup ends with a reveal that they are on a show and he is a magician... he does it the same way every time... he begins the reveal by saying the name of the show in a way that relates to the trick... he will say somethin like, "oh.. it moves because of the Carbonaro Effect... Do you know what that is"?

    This is the point of my post.. I have observed dozens (too many) people responding to that question.... it's a setup... there is no "effect" of the sort. It's just the setup for the reveal. But there are basically three groups of responses to "have you heard of the carbonaro effect"

    1) No. They never heard of it
    2) Yes. Sure I know what that is.
    3) OHHHH.. that show! you got me... I didn't recognize you...

    answers 1 and 3 are honest... they never heard of it.. or they actually have.

    Answer 2... That was the most popular response. The Magician (whose name is Mike Carbonaro, thus the name of the show) then asks them what it is... if they can explain it...
    Then the person backpedals...
    "Oh I don't know the EXACT definition"
    "Oh I've heard of it, but I can't really explain it"

    This group of people was the largest. And I noticed a correlation. The dumbest acting people (you have to be a little dumb, or at least very susceptible to being conned to fall for the outlandish stuff he pulls) during the con were the ones most likely to report knowledge of the "Carbonaro Effect" when no such knowledge exists. The more skeptical and presumably intelligent people that didn't just call him out (they don't generally air those unless particularly funny) will simply say they never heard of it (of course not - it's not a thing, except the name of the show they never heard of). Comfort with honesty about what they know and don't know.. understanding the difference between HEARING OF something (like the italian sauce of the same name) and KNOWING ABOUT something.

    Dunning-Kruger... a social experiment by street magic. It was both fascinating, and sad. The dumb people fell for it fully and lied about what they knew... the smart people either called it out or just pondered over it and reported honestly what they knew was so and what they did not know.

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    Anymore I'm of the opinion that good critical thinking skills take abstraction and the ability to meta-cognate - being able to observe and analyze our own behavior and thought patterns. But then, meta-cognition is a function of the breadth of concepts we can relate to our ideas, and the breadth of those concepts is a function of our experiences and ability to learn.

    What that boils down to is that some people, for whatever reason, are slow learners. And for those people it's a better evolutionary strategy to act confidently, in lieu of actually being confident. Nobody ever got laid with rampant uncertainty.

    Over-confidence has survival value.

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    Some people, like myself, wish to conform and so are tempted to answer in some manner of group 2. Given time they will come out of their emotional storm and acknowledge their mistake. But they'll look pretty stupid at first. Maybe this is just slow learning. Could be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Some people, like myself, wish to conform and so are tempted to answer in some manner of group 2. Given time they will come out of their emotional storm and acknowledge their mistake. But they'll look pretty stupid at first. Maybe this is just slow learning. Could be.
    Conforming is the obvious, immediate response - takes less effort with low odds of repercussions.

    But if someone is good at metacognition and abstraction they'll second guess the immediate response and do otherwise, because they're confident in the alternate course of action.

    This is why intelligence is so valuable, those with it can do what those without it can't, because those without it haven't learned the same breadth of behaviors.

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