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You are not so smart...
August 25, 2011 10:17 AM   Subscribe

The Misconception: You celebrate diversity and respect others’ points of view. The Truth: You are driven to create and form groups and then believe others are wrong just because they are others. Related. Previously.
posted by dave78981 (52 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also: hipsters.
posted by spicynuts at 10:28 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clearly the group of researchers knows us quite well.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 10:32 AM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dave, we were just about to email your invitation to ISC (Internet Star Chamber) but now you're basically excommunicated.
posted by sammyo at 10:32 AM on August 25, 2011


They named their baseball team the Eagles after an animal they thought ate snakes.

They should've called themselves the Mongooses. The Fighting Mongooses.
posted by griphus at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mongeese. Fighting Mongeese.

And if you don't believe that's the spelling, I'll meet you on the baseball field later.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:37 AM on August 25, 2011


Just remove the links and this is pretty much ever MetaTalk post ever.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


See also: hipsters.

I can't tell if this was an act of intentional, scabrous, self-lacerating irony or not.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:40 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought the first two comments on the You Are Not So Smart article proved the point pretty well:

"Haha, so bleak, maybe in a more matriarchal society there would be more room for negotiation, still tribal, but far less violent."

"You read this whole post, then said to yourself “if only men could see with the clarity that women see with”. I was skeptical of how true this could be until i read that comment."
posted by dave78981 at 10:40 AM on August 25, 2011 [14 favorites]




I can't tell if this was an act of intentional, scabrous, self-lacerating irony or not.


It wasn't scabrous.
posted by spicynuts at 10:47 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good. It can be bad to pick at those things.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:49 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this.
posted by cashman at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2011


Great find. I'll make sure to email the links to all my family members, friends, acquaintances and strangers because they don't understand how wrong they are all the time.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:02 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't send me one. I don't need it.
posted by Splunge at 11:03 AM on August 25, 2011


The Fighting Mongooses.

Mongeese. Fighting Mongeese.

Sorry, you're both wrong. Out here in Hawaii, it has been definitively proven that the correct plural of "mongoose" is "plenty mongoose," pronounced "planni mongoose." Usage:

"Ho, brah, I wen stay clearing rocks away from da wall. I lift one up and underneath was one nest with planni mongoose."

I tell you what, we have planni mongoose out here.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:05 AM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Christ the "You Are Not So Smart" blog reeks of a certain kind of tiresome Internet assholism. The Robbers' Cave experiment and associated post is totally awesome though.
posted by beefetish at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2011


"Haha, so bleak, maybe in a more matriarchal society there would be more room for negotiation, still tribal, but far less violent."
I was actually thinking along similar lines. But more interested in how it would be different as I understand 11 and 12 year old boys act differently than 11 and 12 year old girls. Not necessarily BETTER, but DIFFERENT.
posted by jillithd at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2011


MetaFilter: You are driven to create and form groups and then believe others are wrong just because they are others.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:11 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


All your forms and groups are belong to us.
posted by spicynuts at 11:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, a lot of their ideas are stupid and wrong.

(The thing I always worry about with these is the false equivalency that allows, say, climate-change deniers, to say, "See? They do it too!")
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not true. I only believe people are wrong when they are actually, you know, wrong. Like religious people or Lady Gaga fans.
posted by Decani at 11:27 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Christ the "You Are Not So Smart" blog reeks of a certain kind of tiresome Internet assholism.

Huh, you think so? Plenty of Internet assholes talk about cognitive biases as a way of demonstrating their own superior intellect, but this blog doesn't read that way to me at all -- it just seems like standard pop-sci fare. Maybe I need to recalibrate my assholometer.
posted by twirlip at 11:40 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


beefetish, isn't every kind of internet assholism tiresome
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:43 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The misconception: Experiments like these allow you (yes, YOU!) to make widely generalizable statements about groups and flat assertions about individuals.

The Truth: People differ widely, including their ability to understand and empathize with others. Some people are in fact very good at it.

Trying to discount someone's point of view by psycho-analyzing them, "You only believe that because of how you were raised" is lame, but discounting someone's point of view by socio-analyzing them, "You only believe that because, on average, group dynamics encourage those kinds of beliefs" is even lamer.

Lake YouAreNotSoSmart, where they presume that Men are dumb, Women are dumb, and all the children are below average.
posted by straight at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Trying to discount someone's point of view by psycho-analyzing them, "You only believe that because of how you were raised" is lame
what if they were raised by fucking wolves

what then, huh
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:50 AM on August 25, 2011


Lake YouAreNotSoSmart, where they presume that Men are dumb, Women are dumb, and all the children are below average.

You're forming your own little group there, aren't you?
posted by dave78981 at 11:51 AM on August 25, 2011


Yeah, it's the group of people who get that joke, vs. the group of people who don't.
posted by straight at 11:53 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not the mere existence of the others I object to; it's their lack of authenticity.
posted by xod at 11:53 AM on August 25, 2011


what if they were raised by fucking wolves

what then, huh


Rome.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 AM on August 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


Well, one way or another, somebody's gonna be right.

We'll be okay if we can mostly agree on the "one way or the other".
posted by notyou at 11:56 AM on August 25, 2011


Yeah, it's the group of people who get that joke, vs. the group of people who don't.

A-hem
posted by dave78981 at 12:01 PM on August 25, 2011


this of course etc: Of course not, don't be silly.

twirlip: I think the editorial tone of a lot of pop-sci blogs is super douchey, so there you go.
posted by beefetish at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2011


I don't find Dobbs any more believable even if he does have a mustache now.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2011


Okay, I'll spell it out.

It's precisely as dumb to presume that everyone is below average as it is to presume that everyone is above average.

Some people are "so smart."
posted by straight at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2011


It's precisely as dumb to presume that everyone is below average as it is to presume that everyone is above average.

I'm not sure what article you read, but there was nothing about presumptions of being either above or below average in the articles linked in the post.

What's curious to me is that there is often the presumption that we are our own people, completely in charge of our destinies when in fact there are many undercurrents, both psycho- and socio- (and other) that we only get glimpses of through experiments like these.

Some people get really upset about this for some reason, but I just find it interesting.
posted by dave78981 at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


How big is your tribe? You might believe that your tribe is your immediate family. You might believe everyone on the planet is part of the same tribe. Most likely you're somewhere in between.

This is the most fundamental explanation for our rabid political alignments: somewhere between "it's all they're fault" and "we're all in the same boat."
posted by and for no one at 1:58 PM on August 25, 2011


The results showed liberals believed they knew more about conservatives than conservatives knew about liberals. The conservatives believed they knew more about liberals than liberals knew about conservatives. Both groups thought they knew more about their opponents than their opponents knew about themselves.

There are two possibilities here. One is that both sides are equally misguided. The other is that one of the sides really does have an asymmetric level of understanding (they really do know more about the other side and themselves).

It would be interesting to see a study that tried to fully tease that out.

I'll bet that anyone who was once on one side but is now on the other has a higher chance of scoring higher.
posted by HappyEngineer at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, they've discovered ethnocentrism! Amazing no one noticed it before.
posted by elfgirl at 3:31 PM on August 25, 2011


Is this one of those last throes of pomo articles, or just another demonstration that surveys aren't science?
posted by carping demon at 3:37 PM on August 25, 2011


The piece I thought was most interesting, and irritating, was the notion that somehow our social dynamics haven't progressed beyond what makes sense to 12-year old boys dropped into a camp in the middle of the woods. Far more interesting to me is what happened after that: how did we evolve more sophisticated and useful cultural dynamics? How did we evolve the notion that diversity is awesome? How does a culture, starting there, evolve into the one that interrupted their homicidal battles? And from there to here? Wherever here is...

That and Robber's Cave State Park sounds really cool.
posted by emmet at 4:12 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, they've discovered ethnocentrism! Amazing no one noticed it before.

That's an unfair oversimplification. If the authors of the journal article have "discovered' anything, it's that people, both as individuals and as groups, consistently overestimate their own level of insight into others and underestimate others' insight into them. That's not ethnocentrism, but it is (according to You Are Not So Smart) one of the mechanisms by which ethnocentrism perpetuates itself. So we've got evidence for a common cognitive bias, which in turn helps to clarify our understanding of how groups relate to one another. It may not be an earth-shaking revelation, but that seems like useful information to me.

Is this one of those last throes of pomo articles, or just another demonstration that surveys aren't science?

Do you have an actual problem with the methodology, or do you just not like the conclusions?

(You can read the full text of the journal article here.)
posted by twirlip at 4:53 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


So its a whole site about the realization I had when I was 13 that the Hot Topic goths were just as conformist as the Abercormbie & Fitch kids?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:54 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the authors of the journal article have "discovered' anything, it's that people, both as individuals and as groups, consistently overestimate their own level of insight into others and underestimate others' insight into them.

Or more precisely, they discovered that this is true of some college students. Because they only report the average effect of entire groups, we don't even know if they found that all college students do this or a majority or maybe (I didn't look at the results closely enough to see if this is a possibility) even a minority who do it a lot.

I'm not sure what article you read, but there was nothing about presumptions of being either above or below average in the articles linked in the post.


I'm talking about the stupid article that jumps from, "Some studies show that some people do this sometimes" to "You definitely do this, Mr. Not As Smart As You Think You Are!"
posted by straight at 5:04 PM on August 25, 2011


how did we evolve more sophisticated and useful cultural dynamics? How did we evolve the notion that diversity is awesome? How does a culture, starting there, evolve into the one that interrupted their homicidal battles?

I think the beginnings of the answers to these questions lie in this experiment too: the two groups started to work together to achieve common goals and started to put aside their differences when it was in the group's best interest to do so and when immediate competition for resources was alleviated. You see that played out all the time in real life.

As far as embracing diversity, maybe as individual groups grow larger and larger, they naturally break into smaller cohesive groups that then embrace different but complimentary ideals. That's just a guess, but it seems like truth to me.
posted by dave78981 at 5:05 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm talking about the stupid article that jumps from, "Some studies show that some people do this sometimes" to "You definitely do this, Mr. Not As Smart As You Think You Are!"

It's just an interesting way to explain things that are observed. The author of the article seems to believe people act this way. I don't think he's making any value judgement that because you act this way, you're an above average or below average human being.

I'm not really sure why this seems to upset you so much.
posted by dave78981 at 5:25 PM on August 25, 2011


Maybe this is the reason?
posted by dave78981 at 5:27 PM on August 25, 2011


So I guess in this case the tribal others are the scientists who think we have enough free will to escape this kind of knee-jerk group behavior? Or that they aren't that determinative to begin with? Or maybe it's just the regular folks who think they have free will. You know, the people who "aren't that smart". Seems like somewhat axe-grindy language, doesn't it? But who's the grudge against? People who believe their behavior isn't determined by these factors, or at least as much by, say, concrete substantive evidence, argument, logic, and experience? Yes, those people ARE idiots. I would hate to live in a culture that thought that THOSE things mattered, when really it just comes down to simple matters of power and tribalism.

What I want to know is, why are the authors trying to pick a fight?

Are some people more driven by these group dynamics than others, or is this research meant to constitute an un-nuanced argument for cultural relativism?

I read Lord of the Flies in the 8th grade. I was wise enough then to see some of what Golding was writing about in my fellow classmates, but it also seemed to me like a Hobbesian fantasy. And as I got older I began to wonder what "civilization" has at stake in myths of regression in isolation, a touchstone of modernity since at least Robinson Crusoe.
posted by macross city flaneur at 5:29 PM on August 25, 2011


I read the posted abstract and the posted article. There was nothing about methodology in the article. It was a story. I did not read the comments to the article. I looked for a way to download the paper at the abstract page and didn't find one. Thank you for the pdf. I may look at it. However, the article says nothing new about individuals or groups. It amounts to nothing more than, "You think you're so different and you're not." I would be amazed if anyone on Mefi didn't already know that.
posted by carping demon at 5:32 PM on August 25, 2011


I'm not really sure why this seems to upset you so much.

Pointing out that dumb things on the internet are dumb requires getting upset?
posted by straight at 9:21 PM on August 25, 2011


I think the beginnings of the answers to these questions lie in this experiment too: the two groups started to work together to achieve common goals and started to put aside their differences when it was in the group's best interest to do so and when immediate competition for resources was alleviated. You see that played out all the time in real life.

Thinking about this more, I began to wonder what the results might have been if the initial introductions of the two groups had fostered collaboration rather than competition. What if one tribe had the bat and the other one had the ball? Or something similar. As the article points out, there are strong inclinations to follow established cultural paths, what if they'd been mutually beneficial at the start? That I'd really love to see.
posted by emmet at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


@beefetish

You say that, but I wonder, sometimes.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:34 PM on August 26, 2011


Apologies for the snark. It was an amazing article, and relevant to MeFi as much as anyone.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:04 AM on August 27, 2011


Misconception: a single study observing a specific set of people can be used to extrapolate across all people, everywhere.

The Truth: humanity is fucking complicated and gnarly, and we do things for a huge variety of reasons, some of which are really, really hard to test for.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:43 AM on August 27, 2011


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