You know the Dunning-Kruger effect? It’s a psych term based off a study that found people have a cognitive bias toward overestimating their own abilities or knowledge, especially when they have low abilities, and little knowledge. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and if I apply (anyone’s capable of applying, but it’s not easy to catch yourself when you’re doing it).
We covet our opinions. Our dearly held convictions. Even if, maybe, we’re informed more by how we feel than how things actually are. (Disclaimer: exceptions for every rule. Some shit is f*cked up, and there’s no explaining it away.)
Example: I see a political headline, watch a YouTube news video, or read an article (or worst of all, see a meme) and I think that’s not fair! Or why would he/she/they do that?! Or they’re all morons!
Maybe you can relate.
Next, I get scared. Or pissed. I have an emotional reaction. Normal. Then, after a spell, I write. And I think I’ve got a good opinion. Something worth saying.
But what do I actually know? What have I researched (and I mean real research, not conclusion-shopping)? How much time have I spent digging at the issue in question, of surveying both sides? Have I supported my own damn self with facts, removed myself from all media narrative?
This, in my eyes, is a problem. I like to educate myself before I speak. And I suppose I’ve been grandstanding, speaking with a sense of moral superiority, even if I’ve tried not to. I form opinions on the actions of political figures and/or concepts I know too little about for my own comfort, outside of a few blips on the angry internet, and fear—a specific fear at that—that’s delivered straight via news sources of questionable bias. Hell, even if the biases aren’t questionable, and the reporting is solid, I’ve found reading one or two articles and a watching a clip isn’t enough for me form a confident and educated opinion.
Even if I think it is, in the moment.
We should, all of us, have our ideas tested. Otherwise, what’s the measure of them? But that notion is only possible by bouncing ideas off someone who disagrees with you, or opening yourself to alternate views. Which is impossible when everyone’s screaming battle cries (“Demonrat! Redumblican! Snowflake! Racist! Fascist! Communist!”) while bathing in red or blue war paint.
Having said that, this I know for sure: I find this nation’s political divide to be increasingly fascinating. I’m not sure why, but this liberal vs conservative stuff blows my mind. Ultimately, I’m not sure if one side’s resounding victory in the culture war will clear the path for a better tomorrow.
But I want to find out.
Until next time, be good.