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Law Students: Fight The Hypo
Dr. Burton Sums it Up.
By Dr. Bombay
In light of our discussion on political advertising and its truthfulness, I ran into this very timely article in Salon today by a Dr. Robert Burton, former head of medicine at Mt. Zion-UCSF Hospital and the author of “On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not.”
Dr. Burton succinctly makes the point that people are very bad at letting facts influence their decision making process. One of the better example that he gives is from a 1999 study completed at Cornell bleakly entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” In that study, undergraduates were asked to rank their projected performance before taking excerpts from the LSAT (Boo.)
Not surprisingly, people tended to overestimate their performance. Most interesting perhaps was that those that did the worst predicted their performance was going to be the best. As a corollary, those that did the best tended to overestimate the performance of other, assuming that those at the bottom really understood what was going on. The quotes that Dr. Burton provides from that study should send shivers up the spine of all and singular:
“People who lack the knowledge or wisdom to perform well are often unaware of this fact. That is, the same incompetence that leads them to make wrong choices also deprives them of the savvy necessary to recognize competence, be it their own or anyone else’s.”
The question this suggests is if we ? as a species ? are prone to think we get it, is democracy and the process of making laws just a crap shoot? Do we just piss in the wind based on our perception of facts and sometimes get it right, and sometimes die in a hail of bullets? Is the faith that some among our loyal readers place in the American people, the misplaced optimism of the smart?
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