Sunday, 26 March 2006

Unskilled and unaware of it..

Great article on research of 2 men from Cornell University on just how skilled people THINK they are and the ACTUAL skill level of those people. And although agreeing with the outcome of the study, the writer of the article gives some good reasons why he thinks the research in itself is flawed.

What's missing is another reason. Before testing subjects, the researchers came up with 4 predictions that they thought were going to be the outcome of the project. All kinds of research on the subject has proven that when having such an outcome in mind, the results of the tests will prove that existing assumed outcome.

One of the theories that support this line of thinking is that of the "Whoever pays gets the result". Think of it like the research that is done to prove that smoking is/is not dangerous for your health. There have been cases that research (which was done on behalf of the tobacco industry) has shown that smoking was not as bad for your health as tests from other research (sponsored by the anti-tobacco lobby) showed. Here money is the key, because the researching facilities want to keep money from their respective clients coming in and the results will prove favorable for the people who pay them.

So whether it's the money talking, predispositions or former results, research will mirror the same outcome that researches have in mind before the research actually begins.
The same can be said about the outcome of the research done by those Cornell University researchers.

Original link by Digg


Marcel said...

The article reminded me of 'The Four Levels of Competence' which go something like:

1. Unconscious Incompetence
You don't know that you can't do it well.
2. Conscious Incompetence Y
You know you can't do it well.
3. Conscious Competence
You do it well, and you think about the work as you do it.
4. Unconscious Competence
You're so successful it's "automatic" -- you do it well, without thinking about it.

And similiarly this proverb:

"He who knows, and knows he knows,
He is a wise man, seek him.
He who knows and knows not he knows,
He is asleep, wake him.
He who knows not, and knows he knows not,
He is a child, teach him.
He who knows not, and knows not he knows not,
He is a fool, shun him."

(As also seen here)

The question remains though: Are you really competent, or do you just think you are? And how can you spot the difference?

Ellen said...

Interesting thought to share with us there Renee