Bullshit Baffles Brains – the Dunning-Kruger Effect

The triple B factfinder’s column – Bullshit Breakfast Club

Google has unwittingly inspired many armchair wannabes to become experts in most fields, specifically dominating the IT, mechanical and electrical engineering industries but having its origins we believe in politics.

The ability to write well, stick a bun on the back of your head and behave with an air of confidence is fast becoming the norm, a frightening thought if one understands the phenomena known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Society has become full of it, possibly driven by the relatively new lack of standards in the IT industry. Now we smell the fresh aroma of cow dung at every gathering, party or pub visit.

Bullshit Anon – The fresh smell of manure in the air

On a recent visit to Orlando I had to chuckle to myself when I overheard an aviation expert persuading his many listeners in the smoker’s lounge that the reason why smoking on aircraft had been banned was because the authorities had calculated that over 200 kg of tar had accumulated in the passenger cabin of a 727 after only one year in service. The mind boggles.

Has one noticed that oft a geeky, pimply youth would wrap a nerd-like set of specs around his scrawny head, create or attach the bun hairstyle, drop the trousers to the knees plumber style and transform into a potential Bill Gates. Or the guy with a multi-meter becomes a Carver or Voltaire. In recent times I have come across real mechanic donning a clean pair of jeans and golf shirt but the dodgy around the corner auto expert puts on a dirty pair of overalls. It’s all perception folks.

My GP come medical practitioner come doctor does not wear a white coat and stethoscope, some of the best IT boffins look normal and yes, because you wear a suit doesn’t make you an honest individual fighting for the cause. A friend of mine whom holds two degrees, one in electrical engineering and one in computer science tells me when he is stumped. He is also very intelligent.  The typical anti BBB candidate.

Is the reason for Donald Trump’s many recent successes because he is anti BS. He is certainly not politically correct, indeed possibly even blatantly sexist. I’d love to see an unbiased listing of the demographics of his voters. I think we may be surprised. But yes, maybe this is what we need – someone who calls a spade a spade. I personally don’t like bullshitters. Even more, people that don’t even know they are bullshitters. I don’t want to walk into a shop which only sells high end audio gear thinking that the more I spend the better it’s going to be. I want auto manufacturers to build a car without frills so when I buy it second hand five years later I can fix it without breaking the bank. I want to buy anything based on the transparency of the sale. I want to see a website showing all the flaws in products. I do not want some geeky, pimply dude with a bun hairstyle telling me this is how it is.

Can you imagine a politician becoming a salesman? The bad news is that good sales people are as close to dammit as politicians.  From Wiki: “Politics (from Greek: πολιτικός politikos, definition “of, for, or relating to citizens”) is the process of making uniform decisions applying to all members of a group. It also involves the use of power by one person to affect the behavior of another person.” Note that there is no reference to “the advancement or betterment” of “another person”.

I like musicians. They understand politics because many of them write about it. They do more than politicians to serve the poor.  Musicians practice what they preach (mostly) and have very little tolerance for bullshit. Tracy Chapman, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, John Lennon, Ed Kowalczyk, etc – 99% of them. Real musicians. Often politically incorrect but mostly not suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Syndrome.  You will never become famous if you are not good. A musician cannot tell you how good they are until – they have to prove how good they are.

An international airlines pilot is a rated professional. They have regular tests to check competence. Whether all the tests are relevant is immaterial. We have to learn to trust this individual or individuals. In most industries this is not the case. A Bsc graduate in auto engineering may be totally incompetent in his field whilst the highly competent artisan is sidelined. This happens very often – Bullshit Baffles Brains.

In years to come we will reflect on the old artisans, long since pensioned off and deceased whom did what they said they could. We live in an age where the voice of authority is expert. Every single car manufacturer out there vies to have the best technology available whilst the roads collapse, where drivers cannot drive and there are no trains or buses. We live in an age where we sell curved TV, have 8K cameras and where the cheap Atom processor outperforms high end processors of ten years back. We have millions of computer languages, compilers and translators. We have multistandard TV systems, mains voltages of 100, 110, 120, 220, 240V.  We can read up on this and more.

But that doesn’t make us a real chef, real technician, real mechanic, real artisan or trusted doctor, attorney or accountant. And that’s what makes Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Voltaire, Marconi, Flemming, Sinclair, Ford, Wright Brothers, Prince, Jackson, Benson, Bono, Madiba, Rooseveld, Churchill, Bosch, Stanley, Livingstone different. Because they did it.

Actions speak louder than words.

Einstein said:  “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”.

(Ed’s note: Eduan was forced to write this article after an office braggart told everyone how he had changed the idling speed of his car to make the engine run slower to get a higher top speed.  Also the same guy with a not seen helicopter license and “designer-engineer” part time for a manufacturer. What we do know is that has made two girls pregnant in the office and is employed as a “marketer”).