La estupidez y la ignorancia son atrevidas e inmutables

publicado 22/09/2008, Última modificación 26/06/2013

Cortesía de Salon, los resultados de un nuevo estudio arrojan que:

  1. La gente incompetente tiende a sobrestimar el nivel de sus capacidades.
  2. La gente incompetente no es capaz de reconocer la capacidad de otros.
  3. La gente incompetente no puede reconocer cuán inadecuados son.

To put their theories to the test, the psychologists asked a group of Cornell undergraduates to undergo a series of self-assessments, including tests of logical reasoning taken from a Law School Admissions Test preparation guide. Prior to being shown their test scores, the subjects were asked to estimate how they thought they would fare in comparison with the others taking the tests.

On average, participants placed themselves in the 66th percentile, revealing that most of us tend to overestimate our skills somewhat. But those in the bottom 25 percent consistently overestimated their ability to the greatest extent. For example, in the logical reasoning section, individuals that scored in the 12th percentile believed that their general reasoning abilities fell at the 68th percentile, and that their overall scores would be in the 62nd percentile. The authors point out that the problem was not primarily underestimating how others had done; those in the bottom quartile overestimated the number of their correct answers by nearly 50 percent. Similarly, after seeing the answers of the best performers -- those in the top quartile -- those in the bottom quartile continued to believe that they had performed well.

¿Qué tal? Peor aún:

Closely allied with this unshakable self-confidence in one's decisions is a second separate aspect of meta-cognition, the feeling of being right. As I have pointed out in my recent book, "On Being Certain," feelings of conviction, certainty and other similar states of "knowing what we know" may feel like logical conclusions, but are in fact involuntary mental sensations that function independently of reason. At their most extreme, these are the spontaneous "aha" or "Eureka" sensations that tell you that you have made a major discovery. Lesser forms include gut feelings, hunches and vague intuitions of knowing something, as well as the standard "yes, that's right" feeling that you get when you solve a problem.

The evidence is substantial that these feelings do not correlate with the accuracy or quality of the thought. Indeed, these feelings can occur in the absence of any specific thought, such as with electrical and chemical brain stimulation. They can also occur spontaneously during so-called mystical or spiritual epiphanies in which the affected person senses an immediate "understanding of the meaning or purpose of the universe." William James described this phenomenon as "felt knowledge."

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.

Es decir: estar seguro de algo no garantiza en lo más mínimo de que ese algo sea cierto; experimentar una epifanía religiosa, asimismo, tampoco tiene ninguna relación con la realidad. La convicción absoluta es más un sentimiento que una conclusión de nuestro raciocinio -- ¡de hecho, ese foco se prende en una parte completamente distinta del cerebro! Lo que es peor, a una persona férreamente convencida (y equivocada) no se la puede convencer con ninguna razón, así como no se puede desenamorar a un tipo perdidamente enamorado, desconvertir a un fanático religioso, o detener a un furioso lunático sin ejercer violencia.

Yo, eterno convencido de que a cualquiera se puede convencer con razón y evidencia, me veo obligado a cambiar de opinión. No todo el mundo es susceptible de aprender y razonar -- hay gente que es simplemente incapaz de hacerlo y hoy hay evidencia neurológica que fundamenta esa nueva conclusión. Es decir, el dicho que reza el cerebro no le da, frecuentemente es cierto. Y la estupidez es ignorante de sí misma.

Disculpen por haberle tenido fe a toda la humanidad; no todos han sido meritorios de esa fe.