Essay on intellectual humility

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maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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Intellectual humility: the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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It’s been fascinating to watch scientists struggle to make their institutions more humble. And I believe there’s an important and underappreciated virtue embedded in this process.

For the past few months, I’ve been talking to many scholars about intellectual humility, the crucial characteristic that allows for admission of wrongness.

I’ve come to appreciate what a crucial tool it is for learning, especially in an increasingly interconnected and complicated world. As technology makes it easier to lie and spread false information incredibly quickly, we need intellectually humble, curious people.

I’ve also realized how difficult it is to foster intellectual humility. In my reporting on this, I’ve learned there are three main challenges on the path to humility:

In order for us to acquire more intellectual humility, we all, even the smartest among us, need to better appreciate our cognitive blind spots. Our minds are more imperfect and imprecise than we’d often like to admit. Our ignorance can be invisible.
Even when we overcome that immense challenge and figure out our errors, we need to remember we won’t necessarily be punished for saying, “I was wrong.” And we need to be braver about saying it. We need a culture that celebrates those words.
We’ll never achieve perfect intellectual humility. So we need to choose our convictions thoughtfully.

This is all to say: Intellectual humility isn’t easy. But damn, it’s a virtue worth striving for, and failing for, in this new year.

TOS
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for a jibbering retard, it's amazing how full of human waste you are
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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TOS posted:
for a jibbering retard, it's amazing how full of human waste you are


You do realize I didn't write that piece, right? That assumption aside, what, precisely, was full of human waste about that article? It's an op-ed, and I believe the author has a valid point.
TOS
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maurvir posted:
TOS posted:
for a jibbering retard, it's amazing how full of human waste you are


You do realize I didn't write that piece, right? That assumption aside, what, precisely, was full of human waste about that article? It's an op-ed, and I believe the author has a valid point.


sorry, it was a joke ... the opposite of intellectual humility

funny, eh?
user Stupid cockwomble
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the truly humble task would be to dwell on why the joke was missed
obvs precoupado
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I can tell there's going to be a lot of humility in this discussion.
juice Inadvertently correct
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obvs posted:
I can tell there's going to be a lot of humility in this discussion.

:lol:
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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Funny? Not particularly, no. However, I will admit that it hit a bit harder today than usual for unrelated reasons - specifically that I have felt retroactively that I have been pretty stupid for the last 38 years.

Intellectual honesty, and humility in general, are about admitting when you are wrong, not admitting that you are a "retard". If anything, it is "retarded" to not admit when you are wrong, or ill informed, because it means you can't/won't learn from mistakes.

Case in point, we had a PhD in our group a few years ago who epitomized this problem. He was the lead developer on a system we were working on, and it didn't take long before we ran into some issues. He was attempting to replicate a fairly straightforward interface using a National Instruments timing card (for reasons I still shake my head about...), and couldn't grasp that this was not only a poor choice of hardware, but that his design wouldn't work. His understanding of sampling theory was just wrong.

I ended up going over, in fine detail, repeatedly, the applicable sampling theory with the gentleman; but even in the face of detailed analysis and references to texts on the subject, he couldn't or wouldn't relent. Because I was a lowly engineer with only a masters, and he had the PhD, he ignored me, and proceeded to screw up the project to the point where the next person had to literally start from scratch. While we weren't able to replace his poor choices of hardware, and we had to make otherwise unnecessary patches to the system to get around the limitations, we were able to make it work - mostly. However, an otherwise easy win that should have been released well ahead of schedule became a major black eye.

Now, I have had the same thing happen to me as well, and I've had to own up to mistakes myself. While I try to be intellectually honest and humble, It can be difficult when there is so much of yourself in a project that you become emotionally attached to the work. For engineers, it happens when you literally design a system from the ground up, and you know every inch of it, such that it can be hard to separate criticism of the system from criticism of you as an engineer. In my case, the best example was a system where I literally wrote the CPU model and core peripherals myself, then wrote the assembly language program that ran on the processor myself. The system worked, but there was a critical bug in it that another engineer noticed. Unlike the previous fellow, though, I eventually took that second look in the code with the other engineer, and sure enough, we found the bug and fixed it.*

That isn't to toot my own horn, because I was stubborn about it as well. I spent many hours proving the design worked in simulation, and executed the program in ModelSim dozens of times. It was only after someone pointed out that it was intermittent, but that my simulation always kicked off the processor in the same way, that it dawned on me that I was looking for a different class of problem. In the end, I feel I became a better engineer for admitting the possibility that my work had a flaw in it, and then accepting the help required to find it.

* For reference, the bug was in the CPU's interrupt logic, and had been present in the model for nearly 8 years prior to its use in this system. It had just never been tickled right to cause the glitch.
Old Yoda agitator
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For extra points; who said "we are tops in humility"?

Benedictine monks
TOS
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juice posted:
obvs posted:
I can tell there's going to be a lot of humility in this discussion.

:lol:

Pariah Know Your Enemy
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The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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Pariah Know Your Enemy
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Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.

No, that is the opposite of DKE. DKE is thinking you know everything while actually knowing very little. :brow:
Pariah posted:
Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.

No, that is the opposite of DKE. DKE is thinking you know everything while actually knowing very little. :brow:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E ... ger_effect
https://arstechnica.com/science/2011/09 ... yre-wrong/
Pariah Know Your Enemy
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Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.

No, that is the opposite of DKE. DKE is thinking you know everything while actually knowing very little. :brow:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E ... ger_effect
https://arstechnica.com/science/2011/09 ... yre-wrong/

Thank you for confirming that I am right, not that it was ever in question.
It’s funny that someone displaying the hallmarks of DK is using definitions of the DKE to “prove” that he does indeed suffer from it, while believing that he is putting Pariah in his place. I lol’d.
TOS
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Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.

No, that is the opposite of DKE. DKE is thinking you know everything while actually knowing very little. :brow:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E ... ger_effect
https://arstechnica.com/science/2011/09 ... yre-wrong/


see, this is one of those times when you decided to comment when you had nothing of value to say, and it kicked you in the ass

and in this case, the subject matter that had you jumping in is just ... wow

there's a lesson to be learned here
Let's go through this slowly

Betonhaus posted:
Pariah posted:
The more I know the more I know how much I don't know.

It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

This statement is correct. As per the Wikipedia article I linked to:
Quote:
As described by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability and from an external misperception in people of high ability ; that is, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."[1]

The Dunning-Kruger effect also refers to smart people having lower confidence in their knowledge, which is exactly what the quote from Pariah is referring to.

Quote:
It also seems to take effect with scientists that have a very narrow band of focus.

In the context this is more of a non sequetor as it refers to the other definition, but I believe it to be still valid. I would need to track down sources to back it up, but I am referring to situations where someone who has extensively reaserched a specific subject considers other subjects to be inferior and trivial. I've read tech support horror stories of scientists that refused to acknowledge the fact that computers don't work the way they think they do, along with news articles with the theme along the lines of this ceo or whatever of a company has been severely lacking in their understanding of the social sciences to an elementary degree. The official Dunning-Kruger source does not cover such scenarios, I have to admit.

I don't believe such a hostile response to my comments was necessary.
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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Betonhaus is technically correct. The DK curve drops off sharply once you actually begin to master a subject to the point where you feel less capable than you initially did until you then go on to finally master the subject.

Thus, if you are at that point where you actually do know a subject, but have not yet mastered it, you can feel pretty ignorant and incapable. Which, in reality, is pretty close to the truth - you are no longer ignorant of your own limitations.
TOS
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maurvir posted:
Betonhaus is technically correct. The DK curve drops off sharply once you actually begin to master a subject to the point where you feel less capable than you initially did until you then go on to finally master the subject.

Thus, if you are at that point where you actually do know a subject, but have not yet mastered it, you can feel pretty ignorant and incapable. Which, in reality, is pretty close to the truth - you are no longer ignorant of your own limitations.


but that's not what par said
Pariah Know Your Enemy
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TOS posted:
maurvir posted:
Betonhaus is technically correct. The DK curve drops off sharply once you actually begin to master a subject to the point where you feel less capable than you initially did until you then go on to finally master the subject.

Thus, if you are at that point where you actually do know a subject, but have not yet mastered it, you can feel pretty ignorant and incapable. Which, in reality, is pretty close to the truth - you are no longer ignorant of your own limitations.


but that's not what par said

Reading comprehension is hard I guess. :shrug:
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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Pariah posted:
TOS posted:
maurvir posted:
Betonhaus is technically correct. The DK curve drops off sharply once you actually begin to master a subject to the point where you feel less capable than you initially did until you then go on to finally master the subject.

Thus, if you are at that point where you actually do know a subject, but have not yet mastered it, you can feel pretty ignorant and incapable. Which, in reality, is pretty close to the truth - you are no longer ignorant of your own limitations.


but that's not what par said

Reading comprehension is hard I guess. :shrug:


I dunno - it sounded like you were describing the downward slope of the DK curve to me. :shrug:
TOS
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maurvir posted:
Pariah posted:
TOS posted:
maurvir posted:
Betonhaus is technically correct. The DK curve drops off sharply once you actually begin to master a subject to the point where you feel less capable than you initially did until you then go on to finally master the subject.

Thus, if you are at that point where you actually do know a subject, but have not yet mastered it, you can feel pretty ignorant and incapable. Which, in reality, is pretty close to the truth - you are no longer ignorant of your own limitations.


but that's not what par said

Reading comprehension is hard I guess. :shrug:


I dunno - it sounded like you were describing the downward slope of the DK curve to me. :shrug:


nope

it's a simple, old-as-the-hills philosophical notion
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Essay on intellectual humility