There are at least two different reasons why we may not have objectivity in our ranking
procedure. In principle ranking agents should be Objective, but they are more often than not, are Ignorant or Manipulator. Ignorant people may have absence of knowledge of some facts or objects, or just don’t know how to do something. However, they (well . . . never we . . . ) are not necessary uninformed, but misinformed67. Manipulators change, control, or influence something or someone cleverly, skilfully, generally for their own advantage. The actions of Ignorants and Manipulators imply deviation from ”true ranking”, and lead to the illusion and to the artificial change of the reality.
Dunning-Kruger effect reflects a very important psychological mechanism for biased ranking. It is well-known that competent students underestimate themselves, while incompetent students overestimate themselves regarding their class ranks. Young drivers grossly overestimate their skills and response times while operating a vehicle. Literary and movie characters often embody Dunning-Kruger effect, so their ranking ability is biased. Simply, they cannot estimate correctly in their places in their communities. The combination of being uninformed and misinformed
and disinformed (to the memory of Elemér Lábos (1936-2014), a medical doctor and mathematician 69).
Probably the worst case scenario of being an Ignorant is to have misleading mental models composed of false theories, facts, metaphors, intuitions, and strategies which might feel as useful knowledge. (I cannot resist to refer ”The Dunning-Kruger Song”, from The Incompetence Opera70, three minutes long, it is worth to see.)
A movie character embody the Dunning-Kruger effect is Rodney Farva from Super Troopers. He is a rather terrible cop, but he gets really excited to be involved of whatever the team is doing and insists on ”helping out”, while it is obvious for everybody that he’s not really helping. See Best of Farva at youtube71.
While I am far from praising Ignorance, it might have benefits, or may lead to success, as
well. Christopher Columbus is known of believing he had discovered a new continent, not a new path to the Asia. A young Swedish guy, Ingvar Kamprad, who had a mail order company, once he tried to fit a table into his car to sell it, and couldn’t. As he was suggested to remove the legs, he got the idea of flat-packed furniture, and led to the emergence of IKEA. Totally knew companies adopting new business model, as Amazon, Uber abd Airbnb were not established by people having deep knowledge in the book-selling, taxi and hotel industry. Some ignorance combined with having a new insight might have establish innovative ideas. What happens when the ignorance is too much? We all know, so let’s see the next subsection.
One thought on “The Ignorant”
Very nice topic, Peter, and provides wonderful insight into how innovation do not necessarily require deep subject knowledge. Is it that too much know-how on a subject often bias the mind to thinking in a ‘set’ way, perhaps ? In contrast, if one is passionate about something, then, perhaps ‘daring’ to explore possibilities even if one is a novice in the field (i.e. largely ignorant) may provide invaluable experiential know-how and insights, which in turn could possibly lead to marvellous innovations – such as the IKEA !
Thanks Peter for bringing such fascinating and deep thoughts to the forefront.