Crazy People

As I get older, I’ve started to appreciate that “crazy” and “not crazy” aren’t two separate states, like black and white.  Everybody is at least a little crazy, myself included.  The only difference is how much crazy you have, and what flavor of crazy it is.

I enjoy politics (which is at least one piece of evidence confirming that I’m crazy), so I watched the State of the Union address last night.  What I find far more entertaining though is other people’s reactions to it.  People who have never opened a macroeconomics textbook in their life, have thunderously strong opinions on the job Obama is doing, whether good or bad.

If you had a brain tumor, you wouldn’t just listen to anyone’s advice.  You’d want to see a neurosurgeon that graduated from a recognized school at the top of their class, and who had lots of experience performing brain surgery successfully, even if he said your odds were only 50/50.  If a quack said “I can 100% guarantee success if I just cut your skull in half with a chainsaw and yank out the tumor with salad tongs”, you’d run away as fast as you could.   You care more about the surgeon actually healing you than you do about the quack trying to make you feel better.

Economics is just as intellectually difficult as medicine.   That’s why they hand out Nobel Prizes in Economics, because it’s *really* hard.  But for whatever reason, when it comes to economics lots of people tend to believe the quacks and not the experts.   Because the quack told them something they like, something that resonates with what they believe too.  They’d rather the quack make them feel better, than the expert help them.

I think, if I could get the world to read these two Wikipedia links and think about how it applies both to themselves and to others, I will have done my service for the day.

Wikipedia: Dunning-Kruger effect

Wikipedia: Confirmation bias

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply