Monday, 27 February 2012

The Dunning–Kruger Effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realise it.

The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people.

It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding.

Thus, 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.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Animal Quakers

We think of the Quakers now as eminently respectable,
but in the early days they seemed rather closer to hooligans
— inspirational, idealistic, infinitely courageous —
but hooligans none the less.
 — Bamber Gascoigne 'The Christians'

Friday, 24 February 2012

Newton's Third Law Of Self–Promotion

For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.
— Anonymous

Thursday, 23 February 2012


The loss of liberty is the price we pay for freedom.
— Alan Bennett 'The History Boys'

Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
— Ambrose Bierce

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


… the claim that Popper was a positivist is a common misunderstanding that Popper himself termed the "Popper legend." In fact, he developed his views in stark opposition to and as a criticism of positivism and held that scientific theories talk about how the world really is, not, as positivists claim, about phenomena or observations experienced by scientists. In the same vein, continental philosophers like Theodore Adorno and Jürgen Habermas regarded Popper as a positivist because of his alleged devotion to a unified science. However, this was also part of the "Popper legend"; Popper had in fact been the foremost critic of this doctrine of the Vienna Circle, critiquing it, for instance, in his "Conjectures and Refutations".

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mixed Marriages

We walked out — tentacle in hand
you could sense that the earthlings would not understand
they'd go … nudge nudge … when we got off the bus
saying "it's extra-terrestial — not like us"
— John Cooper Clarke 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space'

Monday, 20 February 2012

Does the universe obey the laws of physics?

No. The laws of physics are descriptions of the universe made by humans, consistent with experience.
They are statements of probability/usuality (modalisation), not commands of obligation (modulation).

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Why The War Was Right

Nobody mentions anymore
The weapons of mass destruction,
Except the cockatoo next door
Who got such good instruction.

He screams it to the morning sun
He screams it to the night
Reminding each and every one
Of why the war was right.

You can't re-educate a bird
By spin or sleaze or suction
He simply loves to have it heard,
"Weapons of mass destruction!"

— Michæl Leunig

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

State Of Origin

… your 50,000-greats-grandfather was Homo erectus.
 — Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Surface Tension

We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces.
 — Oscar Wilde

It is only the superficial qualities that last.
 — Oscar Wilde

Saturday, 4 February 2012

O Tempora! O Mores!

What people believe prevails over the truth.
 — Sophocles

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.
 — Sophocles