OVERCONFIDENCE AMONG THE EXPERTS. Experts can also be overconfident, and it seems to me that this is a different issue from being to clueless to realize that one is bad at something (the Dunning-Kruger effect). The wikipedia article I linked to yesterday refers to a study “saying that 94% of college professors rank their work as ‘above average’ (relative to their peers).” Malcolm Gladwell had an article in the New Yorker last year suggesting that, rather than regulatory failure or Wall Street incompetence, “the roots of Wall Street’s crisis were…psychological.” Gladwell’s article is about overconfidence, and in particular the overconfidence that can result from past success. (Kids, you may find some application to our family conversations in Gladwell’s comment that: “As we get older and more experienced, we overestimate the accuracy of our judgments….”) Gladwell discusses psychological experiments on overconfidence and the possible evolutionary advantages of overconfidence. He quotes Richard Wrangham, a biological anthropologist at Harvard: “’In conflicts involving mutual assessment, an exaggerated assessment of the probability of winning increases the probability of winning….Selection therefore favors this form of overconfidence'”

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  1. Dick Weisfelder says:

    Perhaps that statistic holds if you are striving for a merit pay increase. But when you’ve spent your career teaching at a bottom quartile university, I doubt it.

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