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Archive for August 27th, 2008

A quote you may find useful, if not at all consoling:

“…when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to acheive success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden.  Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Instead… they are left with the impression they are doing just fine.”

From: Kruger J, Dunning D. Unskilled and unaware of it:  How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999;77(1121-1134).

Now, I was reminded of this article by a presentation from 2002; it wasn’t my work, but a piece for Eli Lilly, and the article was misquoted [apparently they spent very nicely on the breakfast, but not so well on the Editorial department].  But the citation was correct, so I was able to track down a copy via this fellow WordPress blog: “Keet”.

I suspect many a precious snowflake has got themselves a faulty metacognitive engine, simply because they haven’t had to interact with a world that is able to say “No.” In the absence of the “What if?” widget, which leads many a child to science and the arts, the “Coping with No” widget can enable people to work around constraints… but simply possessing the widgets in one’s mental toolbox does no good if you never are inspired to USE THEM…..

The hopeful part, of course, is that occassionally, snowflakes can thaw out sufficiently to realize that it’s interesting/fun/useful to use those widgets, and then learning really starts to happen.

My father, I suspect, has a special mission to thaw snowflakes wheresoever he happens to be, which is why he is always talking to people — on a bus, in the pharmacy, in the classes that he teaches, at campfires. Over time, he will either get people looking for shooting stars on a warm August evening, or deciding to quit smoking, or deciding that maybe continuing school after getting that dental hygienist’s certificate might be worth doing.

His sisters were teachers, too, as was his mother.  His grandmother was a midwife, who, even in her 80’s, would sneak out and deliver babies.  Little creatures, wired to learn.

Somewhere, under the ice, there has to be a dust mote, or a snowflake can’t form.  Hmmn.  So next week starts the quest to find as much ‘dust’ as possible? [No, I haven’t read or watched The Golden Compass.  Don’t ask me about it.  But if there’s a metaphor in here that works for you, by all means, enjoy.]

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