Tag Archives: Mad Magazine


The man—and I use that word only in its most general sense—pictured above has proven to be startlingly incompetent throughout his life. Yet he constantly brags about his superiority in all manner of things. Sad.

Actor Stephen Fry (yes, I, too, have barely heard of him) was voted the most intelligent person on TV in the U.K according to this article in HuffPo wherein he provides an explanation of why the man pictured above has so many supporters who believe everything he says, even when it is obviously pure twaddle and outright lies.


Fry believes a psychological lesson helps explain this effect.


For example, researchers found students who were least proficient often overestimated their own abilities.

“The skills they lacked were the same skills required to recognize their incompetence,” Fry said. “The incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”

That’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect was developed by psychologists at Cornell. It considers that incompetent people

fail to recognize their own lack of skill

fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy

fail to accurately gauge skill in others

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill


Both Fry and Wikipedia offer oversimplifications of Dunning-Kruger, but the entire Dunning-Kruger paper can be found here:


We focus on the metacognitive skills of the incompetent to explain, in part, the fact that people seem to be so imperfect in appraising themselves and their abilities.1 Perhaps the best illustration of this tendency is the “above-average effect,” or the tendency of the average person to believe he or she is above average…

That, the man pictured does to the max. Indeed, the Washington Post compiled a litany of such claims last October. Among them

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them,”

“I think nobody knows the system better than I do.” (on government)

“Nobody knows more about trade than me.”

“There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

“So a general gets on, sent obviously by Obama, and he said, ‘Mr. Drumpf doesn’t understand. He knows nothing about defense.’ I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand.”

“Because nobody knows the system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me.”

And, of course, there is his constant bragging about his negotiating skills.

He understands the tax laws but insists he can’t release his tax returns because he is under IRS audit. The IRS tells him he can, though whether he is under audit is a private matter.

He “knows the system” but yet many appointed positions remain unfilled that are vital to the workings even he wishes to occur.

As to the military and the generals, he also promised to have a plan to defeat ISIS “within 30 days” Still not done.


And when the Seals mission in Yemen went awry did he take responsibility because he knows the military? Hell no.

On Visas he knows more than anybody? Several federal judges have told him he does not. And that is compounded by his utter lack of understanding of how the federal courts work—or else it reveals that he doesn’t care that federal courts exist, he wants to be a dictator.

On trade he’s an expert? He’s gone from totalling condemning NAFTA to a willingness to renegotiate with Canada and Mexico on some of its terms. All the while he ignores mountains of evidence that NAFTA is not a disaster, but at worst only a lukewarm success for the United States

And negotiating skills? Gee, where were those demonstrated when Republicans were forced to give up ACA repeal and all the program cuts he wanted in order to keep the government financed for the remainder of this fiscal year? He got NOTHING he wanted.

This piece provides a more recent perspective on Dunning-Kruger.


Unfortunately, in those places ruled by the smug and complacent, a classic paper has become a weapon. The findings of Dunning and Kruger are being reduced to “Stupid people are so stupid that they don’t know they are stupid.” Rather bluntly, Dunning himself said, “The presence of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as it’s been come to be called, is that one should pause to worry about one’s own certainty, not the certainty of others.” And that humorously suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect is now a candidate to become a second Godwin’s law.

Like Dunning, I do not take such a dim view of humanity. In fact, Dunning-Kruger and follow-up papers give us cause for hope. They show that people are not usually irredeemably stupid. You can teach people to accurately self-evaluate—though, in their specific examples, this also involved teaching them the very skill they were trying to evaluate.

(Godwin’s law, incidentally, is the proposition that in any comment thread, if long enough, some comparison to Hitler will emerge.)

But remember the fourth point of D-K

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

While that may be true, that presupposes that the person demonstrates a desire to cure their lack of skill. In our present case, do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

What, ME worry? Damned right I worry.




         The recent attempt by Andrew Breitbart to muddy the waters of our still unresolved and often tendentious racial divide is appalling.

          Breitbart himself should be admonished severly for releasing a tape of Sherrod’s speech about her own struggle with personal racist attitudes when he knew it was only a partial rendering of her thoughts. He was aware her speech, taken in context with all the pertinent facts known, would have been about as controversial as playing Musical Chairs at a children’s birthday party.

         Naturally FoxNoNews took up the cause of the rampant, insidious, institutionalized outrageous racism of African-Americans towards the whites whose ancestors owned their ancestors. That there is racism on both sides of the aforementioned divide is a given. To suggest, however, that the history of this republic is replete with equal acts of prejudice by blacks and whites is simply unfathomable.

           Since however, FoxNoNews overlooks no opportunity to excoriate the current POTUS with the big ears, dark skin and questionable birth certficate, any guilt by association will be exploited.

           Now the mainstream media, or as the former half-governor of Alaska terms it, the “lamestream media” quickly jumped on the bandwagon carrying the lemmings over the cliff. They dutifully reported Sherrod’s act of discrimination and called for her head. It is expected that FoxNoNews will ignore the facts to arrive at their own “politically correct”  conclusions and trumpet these canards to the masses.

        But we usually anticipate higher standards from the mainstream, not necessarily matching the authenticity of the Bible but somewhere higher than mere innuendo produced by less true  journalistic research than what goes into the latest issue of Mad Magazine.

       Now in the Third Act of this farce, entering from Stage trying to be in the middle, comes the Obama Administration. Whether on direct orders from someone close to POTUS demonstrating that no racism will be tolerated by its employees, or as a result of a retinue of minions in The Department of Agriculture having a collective IQ substantially below that of the average sperm donation, Ms Sherrod was asked to resign her position.

        Someone in the lamestream finally did some homework, discovered the total fraud behind the instigation of this controversy, and caused right-thinking people everywhere to reevaluate, reassess, and recant their comments and decry their own actions. I said right-thinking people, so Breitbart is still smirking over the little pot-boiler he created. What a DUDE!!!

       In the aftermath Ms Sherrod has apparently decided that, in the interest of peace, love and understanding (thank you Elvis Costello) and to adhere to the oldest and finest of American traditions, she will SUE THE BASTARDS.

       In this whole scenario it appears the nation has experienced an epidemic of illegitimate births because the bastards in this case are found EVERYWHERE. In light of the shameful behavior of so many in the non-pursuit of the truth, the possibility of myriad parties defendant exists. Thus perhaps any subsequent trial can be docketed for the Louisiana Superdome which is experienced in treating the stench of overflowing shit arising following a devastating storm occurring outside its walls.

       What an opportunity for a freshly minted member of the Bar. He or she can simply adapt the research and memos developed in their Moot Court exercise in re; libel and N.Y. times v Sullivan to the case at hand and secure their first million dollar verdict in time to pay the first installment on their educational loans.

      Good luck to Ms Sherrod and bad luck to all the miscreants receiving a summons from process servers.