We all make fools out of ourselves every now and then. Nobody is safe from that unwelcome sense of anxiety once you realized the thing you just said makes zero sense. But things that leave your mouth, whether IRL or online, do stay there, oftentimes forever.
And there’s a whole corner of Reddit, r/S***AmericansSay, dedicated entirely to the mission of collecting the stupidest, funniest, and sometimes embarrassing cases of people being so convinced they know better when they couldn’t be further away from the truth.
So let’s ready ourselves for the ensued hilarity, ‘cause we are about to have a fair share of it, trust me.
“Who Was The First Country On Planet Earth To Ban Slavery? That’s Right, America”
There’s an abundance of scientific evidence that shows humans are poor judges of their own abilities, whether it’s their sense of humor or grammar. In fact, psychologists believe that we are more blind to our own failings than we realize. This idea comes from the 1999 study in which David Dunning and Justin Kruger from Cornell University, New York, tested if people who lack skills and abilities are also more likely to lack awareness of their lack of ability.
The results of the tests led the authors to the interpretation that accurately assessing one's skill level relies on some of the same core abilities as actually performing that skill. It led them to the conclusion that the least competent maybe suffering a double deficit.
“Not only are they incompetent, but they lack the mental tools to judge their own incompetence,” Kruger and Dunning thought. During the course of four individual tests run on participants, the scientists discovered that “People who scored in the lowest percentiles on tests of grammar, humor, and logic also tended to dramatically overestimate how well they had performed (their actual test scores placed them in the 12th percentile, but they estimated that their performance placed them in the 62nd percentile).”
'People Who Leave Their Phones Set To Military Time Are War Criminals'
Dunning shared his impressions in an article for Pacific Standard: "In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge." The phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect and most of us have surely encountered numerous cases of it in real life.