What Does It Feel Like To Be Intelligent Enough To Understand How Dumb One Often Is?

Well, it makes you feel like you’re profoundly stupid actually. And to feel horrified about how much more stupid everyone else is.  But to live in AWE of how we manage to work together using habits, norms, traditions, myths, narratives, writing, property rights, money, prices, accounting, contracts, law, measurements, and the scientific method.  That’s actually as close to magic as I think we’ve come.

As for the problem of competency, the Dunning-Kreuger graph says it all. 

  • While people vary little in their perception of competence or incompetence, about all competence is actually held by only 20-25% of people.

This statistic correlates with two other interesting rules of thumb:

  • The Pareto observation that 20% of the population owns 80% of the property. The reason being that they’re the only ones competent to make use of it. 
  • The IQ distribution that suggests that the minimum intelligence necessary to do anything meaningful is what we currently consider 106 or so.  That no more than 10% of the population can actually understand a liberal arts education.


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