The cult of illusory superiority – Part 2: The Dunning-Kruger effect

I’m bored and should be working on my book so I’m going to procrastinate by rambling on here about shit no one’s gonna give a rat’s ass about. Ok? Ok.

I want to continue where I left off with my last post about the cult of illusory superiority. If you haven’t read part one, it’s here.  In part one I focused on hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance, which are rampant these days, but here in part two I would like to focus on how a little knowledge about something is a dangerous thing, especially when you can infect others with it like a virus.

If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s a well-known saying, the idea behind it being that a small amount of knowledge can lead to overconfidence, leaps to invalid conclusions, and assumptions about things you are not aware that you don’t know.

Textbook example of The Dunning-Kruger effect: Eddie Bravo

If ignorance is bliss then having just a little knowledge is a recipe for disaster – just look at social media. This is all contrasted with having a vast amount of knowledge in a subject, which these days, leads to be being shouted down by the overly confident and emotional mob, depending on which side of the argument you’re on. Again, just log on to any social media platform to witness this in real-time.

Many people have theories about where we went wrong as a society, and make no mistake, all societies go wrong at one point or another. What’s interesting to me is that almost no one ever starts with themselves and points that wagging finger inward. No one ever suspects that they, themselves, might be part of the problem. Again, just look around today, do you see anyone declaring themselves “the bad guy”? No, in fact, we have everyone claiming they are the good guys. There’s a reason for this.

It is my opinion that the biggest threat to a functioning society is not “the globalists” or capitalism, or racism or any other buzzword that gets thrown around like so much garbage now, but it is instead our ego which is the culprit. Further, I would argue that it is our insatiable desire to have it stroked online in a never-ending experiment in self-gratification and or mental masturbation. We’ve taken Pavlov’s bell and turned it into “likes.”

Every one wants to be morally right. No one is ever wrong, and we all prove this over and over on a daily basis now in this circle jerk where people perform gravity-defying mental gymnastics in order to prove that they are, in fact, “right.” Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed and only further reinforces their beliefs – see my last post on cognitive dissonance.

This is better explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is a cognitive bias in which “people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence.” In other words, it’s people who are too stupid to know how stupid they are. And we have given these people a platform to communicate their stupidity on a global level.

There are countless examples of this online. There are folks with gigantic audiences who preach absolute fuckery as the gospel truth, many of them profiting from this. The subjects range anywhere from the earth being flat, science being racist, to complete history revisionism, gender and sexuality, global warming, race and everything in between. And every single person leading these cults is a shining example of the Dunning–Kruger effect in action.

I’m going to allow John Cleese to again explain the Dunning-Kruger effect because he does a great job of it without getting into heavy psychology:

The whole reason I started writing these rants was because of a Joe Rogan podcast that I watched not too long ago. It was like a train wreck and I would rather have spent my time elsewhere than subjecting myself to the level of idiocy contained within the podcast.

Rogan presents himself as an intellectual and I suppose he makes the occasional “deep” point but most of the time he comes off as a meathead questioning conspiracies and “deep” topics, none of which he has any expertise in. His regular co-hosts are also meatheads but they make Rogan look like Einstein. The show revolves around discussing things they don’t understand and having guests on who are much more qualified to discuss various topics; hilarity ensues with the occasional “whoa, dude” thrown in for good measure.

It’s mostly entertaining (I’m a fan) and it’s a successful formula but it boils down to meathead science, and let me tell you, meathead science is not fun to watch when it goes beyond a casual conversation and mutates into a serious discussion.

We’ve all met that one person who believes insane and crazy things – the kooky guy/gal who wears tinfoil like a badge and cites Alex Jones as a credible source of anything. Joe Rogan not only knows such a guy, he’s one of his closest friends and so he decided to give him a platform on his show. That person is Eddie Bravo.

Bravo, if you’re unaware, is a renowned martial artist. He’s also a fucking idiot.

And you might be saying, why am I wasting my time writing about Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo? Well, dear reader, let me tell you – it’s because the kind of conversation they had on Rogan’s podcast is a perfect example of why things are so utterly fucked up now. Their discussion is a microcosm of every comment section of any story on the internet. The only reason the conversation didn’t devolve into a fist fight is because they are friends.

Just how stupid is Eddie Bravo? Allow me to count the ways…

Eddie Bravo believes that the earth is flat, and while that’s not the only ridiculous thing he believes, it’s certainly a contender for the most asinine. But don’t let that stop you, he also believes that NASA faked six moon landings, that the sky rotates around the flat earth, that dinosaurs aren’t real, that satellites aren’t real, that nuclear bombs aren’t real, and he isn’t sure that North Korea is real (they’re just actors according to Eddie), and on and on. No, I’m not kidding, these are his beliefs.

I doctored a cartoon to express how stupid Eddie Bravo is:

Here’s the fun part – his reasoning for these asinine beliefs is that he’s “crazy” and “just having fun.” That’s it. He has no other rational arguments other than he “saw it on YouTube” and that he doesn’t trust the mainstream media, the government or the internet…despite the fact that he gets his retarded conspiracies from the internet. Check and mate. Eddies’s favorite retort? Look into it, brah…Here’s him and Rogan arguing about the earth being flat in the year 2017.

This, dear reader, is where the Dunning-Kruger effect comes in to play: you see, Bravo is too fucking stupid to know how stupid he is. Put simply, he watched some videos on YouTube, created by other delusional idiots, and now fashions himself an expert on what he thinks is the greatest conspiracy of all-time. His parents failed him. His education failed him. Common sense has failed him and yet this guy is successful in other endeavors, go figure.

If this sounds familiar it’s because this is the formula used by 90% of people online now. They see a quote, read a meme, watch a video and BAM! They’re experts, and goddamnit, they are gonna educate you! And if they happen to be popular they often have a high conversion rate for creating other morons. I have seen this time and again, and with a wide range of topics. People WANT to believe things and so they do, because fuck logic and facts!

You no longer have to be educated in any subject, you only have to have an opinion on something.

And so, I found myself – foolishly – watching this video, getting angry and wanting to hop into the conversation and demand that Rogan smack some sense into his friend. But with people like Eddie, that stuff never works because you have to first agree on a basis of reality in order to even approach a sane debate – he is unwilling to do that – as are way too many people these days. And suddenly I am reminded of the best advice I received from a philosophy professor:  the best practice in these kinds of situations is to agree to disagree. The problem these days is the overwhelming number of people who refuse to do so. They would rather burn you at the stake for being a heretic because they’re “right” and you’re “wrong.”

You see, without the basic tenets of reality being agreed upon, your discussion amounts to a shouting match down at the local rubber room. Without being able to agree on basic terms nd parameters, you are wasting your time. And that’s exactly what the podcast devolved to: shouting and poo-flinging. So much for being an intellectual show.

Bravo might as well be mentally ill at this point and he thinks it’s funny.

It’s not funny – it’s disgusting to watch a mind so corrupted by the internet and so failed by society and be so pompous about it. People like Bravo (and there are many people like him these days), believe in one thing and one thing only: their ego. This is the main tenant of the cult of illusory superiority.

The saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face never made much sense to me growing up but in light of all of the idiocy going around lately, it makes perfect sense. Eddie bravo is the kind of guy who would cut his entire face off to spite his nose (and Joe), in order to preserve the sanctity of his own ego. Unfortunately, there are many people like this now and they’re growing at an alarming rate. Joking about the film Idiocracy becoming reality used to be funny…no one is laughing any more.

Rogan’s main criticism to his friend, besides telling him in so many words that he is a pig-headed fucking moron, is that he has a responsibility to the people who look up to him as a martial arts legend, and that it is dishonest of him to want to convert them to his beliefs. Rogan said that he was once young and naive and he too believed anything and he fears that kids will believe Bravo because they admire him.

What’s funny is that Rogan’s criticism was proven almost instantaneously in the comment sections for his podcast and on his Reddit forum. Not only were they filled with people supporting Bravo’s beliefs but they were also filled with people calling Rogan out for being a “sellout” for not believing in a flat earth!

And I don’t mean just a few comments – I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of them – people adamant about it. Many said they were just trolls but when you have that great of a number it becomes a tipping point more than a coincidence. Rogan is now considered a “shill for NASA” by hordes of idiots. Unreal…and yet things get more ridiculous by the day.

And here’s the thing – many of Rogan’s fans commented that if you don’t like what Bravo has to say, don’t watch it. Fair enough. That’s actually a page out of my own playbook, especially when it comes to things people find offensive. That said, watching this shitshow caused me to lose respect for Rogan overall, and when Bravo is on the podcast again, I will not watch it because I refuse to subject myself to that level of idiocy again – it was painful.

But my point about all of this fuckery is that the pushback against science and logic and reason in the recent years is alarming and it is 100% attributed to people like Eddie Bravo being duped by “the internet” and then in turn, infecting others with their stupidity and the illusion of being superior because they feel “woke.” And what I mean by that is, the culprit in all of this nuttery is not the government etc., as Bravo would tell you, but rather, social media and how quickly it spreads disinformation…and how eager we are to spread it in order to be “right” so that others will commend us – this is called virtue signalling.

We have painted ourselves into a corner with mass amounts of horseshit and with nothing to counter it but reason – but long gone are the days of reason. The world we live in now is filled with YouTube and meme PhDs and angry, rabid mobs of idiots with pitchforks and torches, ready to hang any heretics who might dare to oppose them with “evil” facts.

You cannot wholly blame Bravo for being a delusional and or mentally ill idiot savant without also pointing at yourself, because to some degree or another, we are all Eddie Bravo.

Now, maybe you’re saying, “What the fuck? No, I am not!” But then I would tell you that you just haven’t found the topic you’re the most passionate and or frothing at the mouth about. Remember when I said that everyone wants to be “right” and no one is ever “wrong”? I’d dare say that it’s probably American politics and race-relations that have infected the most people, but only because those are the topics de jour.

People believe what they want to believe because they are passionate about it…not because it’s based in fact or truth – those things went out of style with reason and logic. Everything now is about emotion, i.e. how you feeeeellll. And lemme tell you brothers and sisters, people are all up in their feels these days.

It is easy to make fun of Eddie Bravo because he is a popular meathead who revels in his own meatheaded-ness. It is much more difficult to discern that maybe all of us share the same type of mental illness that he has and that maybe all of us have been infected with this virus and are spreading it at an alarming rate.

We live a world of “alternative facts” now. We have gone too far down the rabbit hole. We have made our post-truth bed and now have no other place to sleep because everyone is online 24/7 making sure everyone else is “woke” or else. Those who believe wholeheartedly in their pet conspiracies are no different than Bravo, they just lack the kind of exposure he has.

I have warned against the virus of cognitive dissonance for years and now there’s not just two sides to every story but thousands, literally. Facts once deemed irrefutable are now often the subjects of heated arguments and violence with the only thing that matters being the volume of the those yelling. I used to think the zombie apocalypse was a fun way to create analogies about societies’ ills – you know, the zombies representing social injustices etc. but I now believe that we are the zombies and that we are rapidly cannibalizing anyone who dares not to be one.

I have no recourse for any of this except to unplug. That’s the only plausible solution at this point. And I see no end in sight for this mass delusion and hanging of heretics other than maybe the death of the internet, and we all know how unlikely that is at this point.

We are all too stupid to know how stupid we are and thus are spreading our stupidity like the gospel to each other in this kind orgy-like frenzy. Consider that at no time in human history has this ever been possible like it is now. We are all marveling at our own technological crapulance and throwing feces at one another on a global scale.

Welcome to the new dark ages.