The Lohdown (1 Viewer)


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I am a fan of writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh, and she has a little two minute daily segment on NPR called "The Loh Down on Science." I thought today's installment was particularly interesting, considering the art discussion that is going on elsewhere around here...


Ignorance is Bliss

Think you've got talent, America? Well think again!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science.

Old people think they're good drivers, yet insurance statistics scream otherwise. Meanwhile ninety-four percent of college professors consider themselves above average -- a mathematical impossibility.

What gives?

To find out, U.S. researchers went to several classrooms and competitions, and asked people to judge their own performance.

They found that self-appraisals of average and top performers were right in the ballpark.

Among poor performers, however, gross overconfidence reined.

For example, losing college debaters overestimated their number of wins by one hundred sixty-seven percent.

Wondering if they could bribe folks to get a clue, the researchers paid people, up to one-hundred dollars, to accurately assess themselves. And? Still delusional.

Then they tried a social incentive -- making folks justify their self-assessments to others. No difference.

The conclusion? People who are truly awful at something lack the skill or knowledge to even recognize how truly, outrageously incompetent they are.

Ignorance really is bliss!

Now forget you heard this. And yes we do love it when you break into that high harmony while singing Happy Birthday! Sure!


Finally, a study pointing out what we knew all along: that the least talented are the most sure of their talent. ;)
That is pretty funny.
Makes a lot of sense.
The best artists and performers i know will all say they are just doing what they like and if the public likes them that's ok but they do what they do because they have a deep passion for it.

interesting study.
Thanks MJP
Hah, that is great.
I do imagine that confidence/self-confidence/self-DELUSION is quite a reservoir of motivation though. And since the assessments of others don't matter to the properly engaged (detached), they are not going to ever be dissuaded. And certaintly not by studies, articles or stats.
The problem is that a culture will demonstrate all kinds of support for small, easily accomplished and insignificant efforts. This will fuel the misconception in an individual that its takes very little to BE very much. The whole structure of "regular" and "exceptional" gets out of whack and some do-ers get wrongly puffed-up and elevated, altogether unaware that they haven't got a thing to back it up. A damned shame.
i think you only need to watch an audition episode of american idol to get proof of this. i've been watching the show for the first time in years, and it's appalling the number of people who aren't even capable of singing in tune, yet still think they're god's gift to pop music. not that singing in tune is even important to be a successful singer, but if you're going to audition for something you should at least be aware of what that show is looking for.

part of me thinks: yeah it's great that people are raised to believe in themselves etc. but part of me also wants to scream at these people: give up already!! sometimes i can't see the distinction between self-belief and pure arrogance.
i think you only need to watch an audition episode of american idol to get proof of this. [...] sometimes i can't see the distinction between self-belief and pure arrogance.
That's the prime example, of course. I never miss those audition episodes, they are human-watching at its finest.

But the study is interesting, as it suggests that if you really stink at something, you may be incapable of realistic self-assessment, which is fascinating (and explains a lot).
A lot of those people must know it's a longshot, but what the hell, at least they get their 15 minutes of fame and for many of them that's enough ("Did I ever tell you about the time I was on American Idol?")!
We have our own version of American Idol over here (as most countries have), and last week an old alcoholic, very drunk, was on audition trying to sing a song. He couldn't sing at all but at least he got to be on TV, right? I'm sure he was very popular at his local bar that evening, and that he enjoyed being the center of attention to the fullest...:D
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A lot of those people must know it's a longshot, but what the hell, at least they get their 15 minutes of fame and for many of them that's enough ("Did I ever tell you about the time I was on American Idol?")!
I don't know. The majority of them that leave the audition room in tears say the same thing; "I don't care what they say! I'm not giving up! [sob] They don't know what they're missing! [sob] I'm going to be a superstar, then they'll see!"

It's really astounding.
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there are some contestants on American Idol that are there for a lark, to be part of the spectacle, no matter how they come off. but a large part of those people who are told they suck are truly surprised that people think they suck. their family and friends all tell them that they are the best, keep trying, whatever you dream can come true, etc. that's what friends and family are for, right? my mother always said to me "You're getting so tall!"

tall? I'm five eight, motherfucker! you call that tall!?!

although I'm an awesome singer.
Possibly: Blinded by love. Giving raw encouragement, trying to propel the dream. Dishonest; which could mean looking to cash in. The first two, I can accept with a certain degree of naivete. The latter, well, that would be very, very sad.
It's true, of course, that many of them really believe they have talent ("Everybody tells me so") and gets very upset when they're rejected, and then there's the other category who just wants to be part of the spectacle. The first category is probably the biggest. I certainly hope so, because otherwise the whole show is meaningless. Anyway, it's interesting, and often funny, to watch all the different people who show up for audition. One of the judges over here is infamous for his rude behavior (some would say honest) towards the contestants, saying things like, "Ok, we heard you, now go away", or, "What are you doing here? You can't sing at all!", while shaking his head and acting like he's been under torture....:D
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It's sad and I think it's something that's getting worse with each generation. Kids today don't have a clue what their limitations are (generally speaking). They've been told from day one they're somebody--capable of doing anything (baby boomers idea of creating healthy, self confident citizens) and now it's back-firing. It's gonna be interesting to see how it all plays out as the economy continues to get worse and the little booth were you sign up to take the world by storm is shut down.

My parents never told me that I could be good at "anything." They said "find something you are good at, and then try to be the best at that." Sage advice, until I got a Rickenbacker 4001 bass and started playing original rock and roll, senior year of high school.

Then they said, "You'll never succeed as a musician, be a scientist." What they meant was "we don't want you to be a failed, lazy, musician living in our basement."

They were right, after all. Perhaps not for the right reasons, but they were right.

To this day, I'm doing both on my own terms.
I think its easy to be perceived as being "good" at something (a little better than "sufficient?). Easy enough that one might even be good at many things or even be good at something he despises doing. Happens all the time. People sit in confines, they "accomplish" all day long, receive some accolades and it a day.
Family and friends might steer you wrong. They would rather you feel happy than fulfilled.
So its up to convince the writher in the mirror that you're coming along just fine, that you're gaining ground, that you've broke it off, that your well within reach of your first new smile.

Fortunately there is always much further to go if you care-to.

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