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September 05, 2010

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Incidentally, as regards this story, I could restrain my urge, but will not, to note that I wote on Facebook a couple of months ago about the Christwire hoax, and Stephenson Billings and I have been Facebook Friends since forever, or at least a few weeks. As usual, the NYTimes catches up weeks later.... :-)

A fine site, and remember to boycott Bill Murray for a Better Tomorrow.

That article was the most horrible distortion of Whorf's actual writing and thought I have ever seen. It is like taking the most vulgar strain of Marxism or Freudianism to debunk the entire theory. Whorf' never claimed that speakers of these languages couldn't grasp those concepts, at worst that they would have to access them via another language. Professional linguistics in post war times grew up constrained by logical positivism which advanced claims about access to reality now discredited. Yet in the process of advancing their theory they kneecapped not just Whorf' but in different ways Kuhn, Popper, the latter Wittgenstein. Now you are claiming that Whorf' was wrong-based on distortions by his opponents-and yet his central insight is right. Maybe you should read Whorf' unfiltered.

We literally see the world the way we want to see it.

If that's true, why in the name of Whatever from High Atop the Thing am I seeing this world?

I mean, the way I expect to see it, or the way I'm conditioned to see it, sure. But the way I want to see it? That's just silly.

(I'm not intending that to discredit the rest of his argument, which seems more than plausible to me. But the whole "you just hear what you want to hear" line of argument fills we with rage. I hear all kinds of stuff I don't want to hear. Don't you?)

If you think you see the Dunning-Kruger Effect more on one side of the political spectrum than then other...

...then you've got it.

"But the way I want to see it? That's just silly."

Reading further on the neurological aspects may suggest anosognosia is real.

People do see what they want to see, under specific conditions. Anton–Babinski syndrome is apparently real.

I realize that I'm presenting cause for confusion by eliding most of the five pieces of Morris I've just quoted from, glancingly and in unserious fashion using some terminology of brain functioning to make a superficial observation about politics, which is not fair to Morris, Dunning, Kruger, or anyone else, but please blame any confusion of colloquial suggestions about every day life ("you just hear what you want to hear") with actual neurological conditions on my inadequacies in over-compressing.

"If you think you see the Dunning-Kruger Effect more on one side of the political spectrum than then other...

...then you've got it."

That's certainly true if, in fact, approximately equal nummbers of people on each side of the political spectrum are equally engaging in the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Do you have any objective evidence to present on that point?

Allow me to express my great relief at finding that ChristWire was a parody.

Bill Murray delenda est!

Gary, what about the left's view of Beck's rally. 87k people? Seriously? Granted that was just one outlet and the most ridiculous example, but even after admitting that the rally was not what they expected I can guarantee that journalists and politicians on the left will still call Beck's watchers racist.

"Gary, what about the left's view of Beck's rally."

I haven't spoken to The Left recently enough to get a quote, I'm afraid. Obtaining the view of an abstraction can often be difficult.

Russell, what threw a lot of people off was Jon Marie.

But it didn't take more than half an hour at most to determine that she was real, while the rest of the site's writers weren't.

It was obvious when looked at: she has her pieces posted anywhere that will repost them, and was clearly a real person.

Articles written by others, on the other hand, when examined at all closely, clearly were over-the-top. I enter the Bill Murray piece into evidence, as that's the one that made me take a real look at Christwire, and conclude that it was clearly hoaxhoaxhoax.

That Jon Marie was too dim or uncaring to notice one of the places carrying her was a little off seemed entirely plausible. And lo!

So I immediately sent Stephenson a Friend request when I figured this out some weeks ago. Thomas Nephew and John Emerson can verify all this. :-)

First, welcome back Gary. Very interesting topic.

"87K people? Seriously?"

Is it MY anosognosia, or did someone else's anosognosia just prevent them from telling me how many people actually attended the "I Have A Scheme" speech?

O.K. How many attended?

It amazes me that no one can supply a number. Everyone can supply the number that it is NOT, but they can't supply .. the number.

Whoops. Only just noticed and fixed that I hadn't put in a "hide below the cut" command after the first couple of paragraphs. Fixed now!

"O.K. How many attended?"

Well the 87k splits the difference of the range estimated by a company who does these things, hired by CBS.

I'm dealing with a local varietion on this. My gated community owns a forest. Some well intentioned but misquided people thought that we needed to hire a forester to tell us how to manage our forest. They had no idea why or for what goals the forest should be managed. They just assumed that since a plumber fixes pumbing, a forester fixes forests which must needed fixing, of course, since they had hired a forester to fix it. The forester produced a report which (surprise!) recommended cutting down a significant percentage of the trees. This causeed a great deal of controversy. The promoters of the forest plan, none of whom had any background knowledge or exp-erience in forest ecology, read the forester's plan and became, in their own minds, instant experts. They also became closeminded to information from people who had background knowledge and experience in forest ecology.

And it is very very difficult to communicate with people who know so little that they think they know it all.

"A very popular error: having the courage of one's convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions."
-Nietzsche

Our minds seem to come with training wheels to keep us from falling down out of the gate, but it's a hell of a thing to learn to take them off for any length of time.

One of the weirdest aspects of this to me is how someone who is good at self-appraisal in one area can be terrible at it in other areas. It seems to me that, while self-appraisal is a skill, one's defenses and habits of thinking can still prevent it from being exercised even when it's been learned.

"Let's not bicker and argue about 'oo killed 'oo." My point was that people who dislike Glenn Beck and his viewers/followers will continue to dislike them, but blame their dislike on non-existent reasons (racism, violence, etc) when really their dislike stems from disagreement about politics. Anosognosia is not limited to one side of the political debate, and to make that claim universally is itself a betrayal of blindness and bias.

Other than the political injections, I thought this was a great topic!

"Anosognosia is not limited to one side of the political debate, and to make that claim universally is itself a betrayal of blindness and bias."

It would be. I assume you're referring to my "And when the right side of one's political world loses the ability to detect anomalies and challenge the left, our current politics results," with its link. I was making a leetle joke, and not a universal claim.

Ahh, perhaps I read more into it than you intended. Sorry!

Ahh, perhaps I read more into it than you intended. Sorry!

Yes, Kevin, I'm sorry your fee-fees were hurt for a little bit there. Go back to your Glen Beck apologetics.

Nice post, GF.

"Yes, Kevin, I'm sorry your fee-fees were hurt for a little bit there. Go back to your Glen Beck apologetics."

There's no need to engage in personal attacks. Please don't.

An Einstein quote comes to mind as the flip side of this:

The more I learn the more I realize I don't know.

He is a great source of quotes.

[P.S. Hi, Gary!]

people who dislike Glenn Beck and his viewers/followers will continue to dislike them, but blame their dislike on non-existent reasons (racism, violence, etc) when really their dislike stems from disagreement about politics.

As an aside, I have no problem disliking Glenn Beck purely on the basis of his politics. Racism and violence, to the degree they are present, are pure lagniappe.

Cool post Gary.

I wonder if Dunning and/or Kruger (or anyone) has done any research in how much of the eponymous effect is due simply to a mechanical attempt by the brain at cognitive efficiency.

In other words, there's a lot of information to process, so perhaps we filter it based on what we already (think we) know simply as a way to deal with sheer volume of it.

And so, not so much an indicator of bad faith as of overload.

Even in that case, though, laziness and a lack of real interest in what's actually so come into it as well.

I feel reminded of the old joke[1] that students know everything when they go to university and know nothing when they leave. So, they must have left all that knowledge at the university to be stored.

[1] popularized by, who else, Terry Pratchett.

Everyone can supply the number that it is NOT, but they can't supply .. the number.

What number do you mean? The correct one? You're never going to know that one, or (more accurately) you're never going to know for sure that it WAS the correct one.

And, really, who cares?

"My point was that people who dislike Glenn Beck and his viewers/followers will continue to dislike them, but blame their dislike on non-existent reasons (racism, violence, etc) when really their dislike stems from disagreement about politics."

You've confused sufficient cause with only cause and worked a serious bit of question begging in there. And in one sentence.

"And, really, who cares?"

Slarti, you're my kind of engineer.

Everyone ..... and no one.

Or the average between the two.

Perhaps the answer to this equation will yield a usable number: the number of the dead caused by the war in Iraq divided by the number of bleached-out hair follicles that appear on FOX during any 24-hour period.

The man wearing one watch knows what time it is. The man wearing two watches isn't sure.

The 87,000 folks wearing the stopped Glen Beck watch can't seem to count themselves (or at least they are better multipliers than adders), unless the counting is in the vein of Three Stooges enumeration.... let's see ... one, two, three, tell me, how old is your middle child .. seven .... yes now where were we ... seven, eight ... estimates of the number of Jews murdered by the National Socialist Adolph Hussein Hitler of Pennsylvania Avenue were? ... six million .. Bingo! .... six million good Americans attended the Glen Beck rally in Washington!

I think the National Park Service should resume counting (estimating). I find it interesting that they have chickened out in this perfectly justifiable government function and left the numbers to the relativistic world of demagoguery of all persuasions.

And we call it freedom.

I think the National Park Service should resume counting (estimating). I find it interesting that they have chickened out in this perfectly justifiable government function and left the numbers to the relativistic world of demagoguery of all persuasions.

To be fair, can your really blame some park rangers for not wanting to be on the receiving end of mass derision? I mean, some of them might even have granite countertops. Better to focus their time and energies on more important things like rescuing stupid people from certain death.

I'd prefer the National Park Service focus on keeping up the parks as best they can in the face of limited budgets.

It's unclear to me how attempting to estimate crowds after the fact, for non-repeatable events, would make for better parks, or that the park service has been tasked to do anything significantly beyond their mandate of keeping up the parks as best they can.

Better to focus their time and energies on more important things like rescuing stupid people from certain death.

In all fairness, this really doesn't happen on the National Mall.

"In all fairness, this really doesn't happen on the National Mall."

I have documentary evidence otherwise, mister.

In all fairness, this really doesn't happen on the National Mall.

True enough, but since the potential national mall crowd counting rangers would have to be hired using the same budget that currently pays for the bad ass search and rescue rangers that I saw at Yosemite, presumably the latter would be affected as well.

And, really, who cares?

Maybe it's like guessing the number of jelly beans in the jar, and the winner gets a fun prize.

If there's a free ice cream for guessing correctly, my guess is 102,963 and I'd like two scoops please, one chocolate and one coffee.

Perhaps the Census Bureau could count the crowds on the Mall.

Why wasn't the Park Service rescuing the 87,000 folks on the Mall from their certain death at the hands of the rally-sponsers, the Koch Brothers and Glen Beck and Rupert Murdoch and the many operatives who want to kill them by de-funding Social Security and Medicare?

I think they are climbing the face of a cliff from which they can't descend.

Maybe they

Maybe they .....?

Sorry, I was vaporized mid-sentence by a high-frequency disintegrator.

Yeah, maybe.

I'm reading John M. Barry's history of the 1918-19 influenza epidemic, and he's pretty convinced (based on contemporary descriptions of the symptoms) that Wilson had influenza in the spring of 1919 at Versailles. There's evidence that influenza has neurological side effects (lots of autopsies of influenza victims showed that the virus attacked brain cells) and was associated with later strokes. Some medical writers since then have claimed that what he had in 1919 was a small stroke, followed by the major one later on; but that's not consistent with his doctor's description of the cough, high fever, and lethargy, none of which is a symptom of a stroke. And the influenza could well have affected his cognitive capacity and decision making.

Of course, I would argue that Wilson's anosognosis kicked in a lot earlier--he never realized he was an asshole.

O.K., so we won't or can't count the folks on the Mall the other day.

Actually, their estimate was a round number -- we the people -- but then I figured that they were counting me the people as one of the we the people in attendance without my permission and if that was the case with others as well, then we could just count the rest of the me the people who weren't in attendance and ipso fatso, by process of elimination, come up with an estimate of people who didn't attend the rally.

Also, here's a video of Sarah Palin reciting the Preamble to the Constitution.

I look forward to her Presidency.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBuPQgV8yBM

"Of course, I would argue that Wilson's anosognosis kicked in a lot earlier--he never realized he was an asshole."

On the other hand, he was aware of his racism, and proud of it; he was one of the most personally racist presidents we've ever had, as well as one of the worst for civil rights of every sort.

Ted Nugent was invited to receive a special badge at the Beck rally:

http://mediamatters.org/embed/clips/2010/08/20/8819/beck-20100526-beck-rally-guestlist

He didn't show. Neither did Woodrow Wilson.

Maybe the neutered Nugent and Death Palin have broken up:

http://refudiatethissarah.blogspot.com/2010/09/sarahpalinusa-your-crazy-boyfriend.html

What is the link between operator Ted Nugent's provision of Final Solutions and his views on race and Beck and Death Palin's hatred of President Obama?

Is it that they are all Kochsuckers?

Missed all the fun, but I pass on this link about by Dan Moonhawk Alford, who I corresponded with a few times and who sadly passed away 8 years ago, entitled The Great Whorf Hypothesis Hoax. It's a bit over the top, but might be of interest for further readings.

It does occur to me that most people don't click through on links, and I left out, in the interest of not going longer, the most fun part of Morris' series, which is the story of the would-be bank robber dumb enough to believe that if you rub your face with lemon juice, you're invisible to cameras.

[...] From there, it was an easy matter to track the case to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, specifically to an article by Michael A. Fuoco:

ARREST IN BANK ROBBERY,
SUSPECT’S TV PICTURE SPURS TIPS

At 5 feet 6 inches and about 270 pounds, bank robbery suspect McArthur Wheeler isn’t the type of person who fades into the woodwork. So it was no surprise that he was recognized by informants, who tipped detectives to his whereabouts after his picture was telecast Wednesday night during the Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers Inc. segment of the 11 o’clock news.

At 12:10 a.m. yesterday, less than an hour after the broadcast, he was arrested at 202 S. Fairmont St., Lincoln-Lemington. Wheeler, 45, of Versailles Street, McKeesport, was wanted in [connection with] bank robberies on Jan. 6 at the Fidelity Savings Bank in Brighton Heights and at the Mellon Bank in Swissvale. In both robberies, police said, Wheeler was accompanied by Clifton Earl Johnson, 43, who was arrested Jan. 12.[1]

Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

In a follow-up article, Fuoco spoke to several Pittsburgh police detectives who had been involved in Wheeler’s arrest. Commander Ronald Freeman assured Fuoco that Wheeler had not gone into “this thing” blindly but had performed a variety of tests prior to the robbery. Sergeant Wally Long provided additional details — “although Wheeler reported the lemon juice was burning his face and his eyes, and he was having trouble (seeing) and had to squint, he had tested the theory, and it seemed to work.” He had snapped a Polaroid picture of himself and wasn’t anywhere to be found in the image. It was like a version of Where’s Waldo with no Waldo. Long tried to come up with an explanation of why there was no image on the Polaroid. He came up with three possibilities:

(a) the film was bad;

(b) Wheeler hadn’t adjusted the camera correctly; or

(c) Wheeler had pointed the camera away from his face at the critical moment when he snapped the photo.[2]

"But I wore the juice" is a phrase I've seen crop up virally here and here, now.

I love dumb criminal stories.

On the other hand, he was aware of his racism, and proud of it

And his authoritarianism, and in all likelihood his preening moral smugness.

It's a interesting question: is believing that your vices are actually virtues a cognitive deficit, a moral deficit, or both? Is it possible that one can be objectively an a-hole and fail to recognize it, rather than simply not sharing the widely held subjective opinion that one is an a-hole?

I've often wondered how Dick Cheyney sees himself. For some reason, he seems to be a special case of Supremely Confident A-hole (at least in terms of recently powerful Americans I've gotten to see speak regularly on television- he's no Idi Amin or Pol Pot or Hitler or whomever really horrible, historical person you can of). Does he think he's a good guy, or does he just not care that he's a bad guy.

?, I mean.

I'd prefer the National Park Service focus on keeping up the parks as best they can in the face of limited budgets.

And do you think maybe knowing how many people are using park space during crowded events would be helpful to that purpose?

hairshirt -- my guess is that Cheney thinks he's a good guy. Oh, probably also that he's a ruthless hard-a** (and very very proud of it) but that it's ruthlessness and harda**ery in service of laudable ends, one end being resistsance to the liberal pacifist wimps who would ruin our country by their wimpiness.

Even as I write this I'm reminded of something I haven't though about for years, the Nazi in a death camp feeling sorry for himself because he is carrying out this hard duty on everyone's behalf and for the greater good (was that in Sophie's Choice, perhaps?).

The only "bad guys" I've known in real life definitely thought of themselves as good guys, or at least neutral guys. I don't mean just people I didn't like or was in conflict with personally, I'm thinking especially of a couple of instances of publicly known professional misconduct, in one case real, "proven," and acted upon by the appropriate supervising body, in the other case never acted upon. (Long stories both of them.)

In the latter case I know the guy thought that everything he did was for the good of the people in his charge, and that his accusers were on a witch hunt. In the former case I don't think there was a "good for everyone" argument, but the guy did seem to believe that he had done nothing wrong.

More than Cheney, who is about as complicated as Darth Vader's evil side in my opinion, I wonder about GWB.

On second thought, no, I don't.

Welcome back, Gary. It's a pleasure to have such clearness in a post of such complexity.

'On the other hand, he was aware of his racism, and proud of it; he was one of the most personally racist presidents we've ever had, as well as one of the worst for civil rights of every sort'

I usually avoid attaching this attribute to anyone, but this is one with which I have no difficulty agreeing.

Regarding the number of attendees on the Mall, we could allow November voting numbers as a proxy for deciding who guessed the right number.

"And do you think maybe knowing how many people are using park space during crowded events would be helpful to that purpose?"

Pretty much not. Every event is different, and every estimate would be ex post facto. Do you have any cites to any Park Service source that would explain how paying to make such retroactive estimates would be useful? Do you have any explanations of your own as to how they might be useful?

Once the garbage is left behind, it's left behind, and has to be picked up. Grass has to be reseeded. Etc. All the damage is visible. What difference are you suggesting it would make to now give one figure, versus another, to the Park Service, of how many people were present on a given day?

Regarding the number of attendees on the Mall, we could allow November voting numbers as a proxy for deciding who guessed the right number.

I don't understand what this means at all.

Turb: Something along the lines of "If my side wins one thing, then my side wins everything forward and backward in time."

What difference are you suggesting it would make to now give one figure, versus another, to the Park Service, of how many people were present on a given day?

Are we allowed to assume that the number of people in a given park at some point in time will change the subsequent total square footage of the park? If we can make that assumption, I think we can make the case for very accurate, after-the-fact attendance estimates. (Yes, I have a mouse in my pocket.)

Turb: Something along the lines of "If my side wins one thing, then my side wins everything forward and backward in time."

I thought about that, but it doesn't make any sense at all. Most people who vote for republican candidates are not actually stupid enough to attend a Glenn Beck rally. I mean, most of these voters have money and haven't spent it all on a crazy gold huckster -- they're smart enough to recognize the huckster. Surely GOB isn't so insulting as to claim that most republican voters really are stupid enough to get taken in by a two bit gold coin huckster running a scam that I could see through back when I was in elementary school, right?

Apparently it was the Park Police doing the counting rather than rangers; they stopped releasing estimates when Congress disallowed funding for such activities after a threatened lawsuit.

I thought about that, but it doesn't make any sense at all.

Oh I know. Actually I thought about using "no backsies to infinity" instead of "forward and backward in time"; maybe that would have made it clearer.

John McWhorter had an interesting followup on the NY Times Magazine piece on language.

Gary, you have the link to the print this page link, which gives me all three pages, but also invokes my printer, which I can cancel, so it is not a biggie, but it might be better to refer to the straight blog link

http://www.tnr.com/blog/john-mcwhorter/77439/dont-believe-the-hype-about-aborigines-yiddish-or-ebonics

cheers

The gatekeeping done on the web is essentially a variation of the "heckler's veto." Actual content based comments get screened out leaving so many unsupported assertions unchallenged, and giving the impression that they can't rebutted. It does allow a plethora of comments adding basically nothing more than "Because,SHUT UP,that's why!".

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