Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bad Argument: I Know What I Am Doing! (No you don't)

NOTE: this is a completed version of a previous post

Sometimes, when you tried to reason with a supporter of suspect scheme, and they have no logical retort to your points, they will instead bring out the "I know what I am doing" bad argument, which generally goes like this:

A: Acme XYZ is a scam because ____, ____, and ____.

B: I know Acme XYZ is not a scam. I know what I am doing. It's my business, not yours.

This is a total red herring, because it neither argues against the premise, nor argues for the counter-premise. It is completely unrelated.

What's more, there are several problems with one. One of which is "illusory superiority", in that we always think we are better than we really are. It's called "self-esteem". But there's more.

A specialized form of illusory superiority is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, in that the people who are incompetent are ignorant of their incompetence, and people who are competent, in turn, are less confident of their own abilities. Or in other words, stupid people are not aware of their own stupidity. They will take a test, then when asked to estimate how they did, they will give high scores of themselves. Conversely, people who are competent (not master), aware of their own limitations, will get higher test scores, but give themselves low estimate of their performance.

So the question becomes: if they have no logical retort left, and given the Dunning-Kruger effect, how can they conclude that they know what they're doing?
I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.-- Socrates, ancient Greek philosopher
If you REALLY think you know what you're doing, you wouldn't be so confident. 

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