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General Discussions => Skepticism / Science Talk => Topic started by: John Albert on April 29, 2019, 01:42:56 AM

Title: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: John Albert on April 29, 2019, 01:42:56 AM
Oh, that headline!

Quote
Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about, study suggests

Researchers attempt to measure how often people oversell themselves in society


(https://i.imgur.com/SnvwWfC.jpg)
New research shows males are much more likely than females profess expertise they don't really have. (iStock/iStock)

By Christopher Ingraham | April 26, 2019

Researchers embarked on a novel study intent on measuring what a Princeton philosophy professor contends is one of the most salient features of our culture — the ability to play the expert without being one.

Or, as the social scientists put it, to BS.

Research by John Jerram and Nikki Shure of the University College of London, and Phil Parker of Australian Catholic University attempted to measure the pervasiveness of this trait in society and identify its most ardent practitioners.

Study participants were asked to assess their knowledge of 16 math topics on a five-point scale ranging from “never heard of it” to “know it well, understand the concept.” Crucially, three of those topics were complete fabrications: “proper numbers,” “subjunctive scaling” and “declarative fractions.” Those who said they were knowledgeable about the fictitious topics were categorized as BSers.

Using a data set spanning nine predominantly English-speaking countries, researchers delineated a number of key findings. First, men are much more likely than women to master the art of hyperbole, as are the wealthy relative to the poor or middle class. North Americans, meanwhile, tend to slip into this behavior more readily than English speakers in other parts of the globe. And if there were a world championship, as a true devotee might appreciate, the title would go to Canada, data show.

The study drew from the Program for International Student Assessment, which is administered to tens of thousands of 15-year-olds worldwide. The test included a background questionnaire that captures demographic information, along with students’ attitudes toward the subjects they study in school. That section of the test included the questions about math knowledge.

The data revealed that boys across all nine countries were significantly more likely than girls to pretend expertise, with the difference between the two working out to nearly half a standard deviation in some countries — a big gap, statistically speaking.


BS gaps between girls and boys (measured in standard deviations from average)


COUNTRY          GIRLS            BOYS            GAP
England      -0.23            0.24            0.48
Ireland      -0.23             0.23          0.46
Scotland      -0.23          0.21          0.44
Australia        -0.21          0.21          0.42
Wales        -0.21          0.21          0.42
New Zealand        -0.20          0.20          0.40
Northern Ireland        -0.18          0.17          0.35
Canada        -0.17          0.17          0.34
USA        -0.13          0.13          0.25


Interestingly, the gender gap for this trait in the United States is the smallest among the countries studied, about half the size of the gap in England. Americans are, perhaps, more egalitarian in our exaggerations than our peers across the Atlantic.


BS gaps by economic class (measured in standard deviations from average)


COUNTRY               BOTTOM 25%          NEXT 25%        THIRD 25%        TOP 25%        GAP
Scotland             -0.36             0.08             0.09             0.30             0.65
New Zealand             -0.29             0.03             0.09             0.33             0.62
Ireland             -0.21             0.07            -0.02             0.23             0.44
Australia             -0.18         -0.12          0.02          0.25          0.42
Wales             -0.17         -0.03          0.04          0.19          0.36
England             -0.12         -0.09          0.02          0.17          0.29
Canada             -0.13         -0.07         -0.05          0.15          0.28
USA             -0.09          0.02         -0.04          0.11          0.20


Finally, a between-country comparison finds that young people in Canada and the United States are the most likely to over-sell themselves overall, with those in Europe being much less likely to engage in such behavior.

Taken as a whole, the results appear to suggest that the countries with the greatest propensity toward bombast also have the smallest variances between groups living within them. In the U.S. and Canada, for instance, there may simply be so much BS going around that everyone ends up partaking in it.

In Europe, the trait is less widespread but more confined to males and the wealthy. That may result in less pressure on women and the non-rich to enhance their social standing through pretense.


BS by country (measured in standard deviations from average)


COUNTRY                                        BS SCORE
Canada                                         0.298
USA                                         0.252
Australia                                         0.179
New Zealand                                         0.135
England                                         0.093
Ireland                                        -0.255
Northern Ireland                                        -0.265
Scotland                                        -0.432


The study also found that the true practitioners are more likely to “display overconfidence in their academic prowess and problem-solving skills.” The individuals most likely to claim to be math whizzes, in other words, are also the most likely to claim expertise in subject areas that don’t exist. That finding suggests that people who are particularly boastful of their abilities should be treated with some skepticism.

Nevertheless, the study gives reason to believe there’s a useful life skill to be had here, such as the ability to bluff your way to success. “Being able to bulls--- convincingly may be useful in certain situations (e.g. job interviews, negotiations, grant applications),” the study authors write. That would be a plausible explanation for why kids from wealthy families are more likely to adopt this behavior: they’re taking cues from their successful parents.

The study also suggests that men’s higher propensity toward this behavior “could help them earn higher wages and explain some of the gender wage gap,” said study co-author Nikki Shure. “This has important implications for thinking about tasks in job interviews and how to evaluate performance.”

One caveat to consider is that the study subjects were adolescents. Though it seems a good bet to assume that personality traits developed as teens will carry over into adulthood, this study isn’t proof of that. “These 15-year-olds are most likely already thinking about applying to university or entering the labor market, both of which are points during which bulls---ing may serve as an advantage,” Shure said.

The authors also point out that their study was narrowly defined and restricted to the realm of mathematics. “Ideally,” they wrote, “future research should try to include a greater number of fake constructs in order to maximize precision of the bulls--- scale.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/04/26/rich-guys-are-most-likely-have-no-idea-what-theyre-talking-about-study-finds
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: DanDanDan on April 29, 2019, 02:27:29 AM
Hmm. Probably just an artifact. Rich white dudes are in charge and probably don't have many employees that disagree with them. Thus, they wind up thinking that their shit doesn't stink. Classic Dunning-Kruger and such.

As discussed countless times on the pod, the actual neurological differences between the sexes and the races is so minute that there's little point in paying attention to them. In real world scenarios especially, IMO.

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Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: Ah.hell on April 29, 2019, 09:47:46 AM
I'd suspect the connection is, confidence yields success, doesn't matter if its based on reality or or just bravado. 
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: Harry Black on April 29, 2019, 10:40:52 AM
I'd suspect the connection is, confidence yields success, doesn't matter if its based on reality or or just bravado.
Another possibility is that unearned success yields unearned confidence.
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: CarbShark on April 29, 2019, 10:52:38 AM
Hmm. Probably just an artifact. Rich white dudes are in charge and probably don't have many employees that disagree with them.

They don’t care if their employees agree with them or if they write things they disagree with.

They just want to make money selling what they write. They don’t care what they write.


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Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: daniel1948 on April 29, 2019, 10:59:18 AM
I have always had (and recognized that I had) the knack of sounding knowledgeable on any subject where I had a bit of knowledge. Especially talking to someone who was unfamiliar with the subject. I have a pedantic way of speaking, and this helps convey the impression of knowledge to anyone who is unfamiliar with the topic being discussed.

But I never believed that this impression was accurate.

I've always been good at taking tests also, and as a result I generally score higher than is justified by my actual knowledge of the subject.
Title: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: CarbShark on April 29, 2019, 10:59:20 AM
Hmm. Probably just an artifact. Rich white dudes are in charge and probably don't have many employees that disagree with them.

They don’t care if their employees agree with them or if they write things they disagree with.

They just want to make money selling what they write. They don’t care what they write,


as long as it sells.
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: DanDanDan on April 29, 2019, 11:35:30 AM
Hmm. Probably just an artifact. Rich white dudes are in charge and probably don't have many employees that disagree with them.

They don’t care if their employees agree with them or if they write things they disagree with.

They just want to make money selling what they write. They don’t care what they write,


as long as it sells.
Yup

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Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on April 29, 2019, 02:28:10 PM
I always thought Noam Chomsky was talking out of his ass. :D (Sorry, couldn't resist. :P )

I think the study would have had more meat so to speak if they had included some non-Anglophone countries in the comparisons as well.

I would think that the tendency to oversell oneself is related to the masculinity dimension in the Hofstede (https://www.hofstede-insights.com/) model, though not entirely synonymous to it.

Quote
A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the “winner” or “best-in-the-field.” This value system starts in school and continues throughout one’s life – both in work and leisure pursuits.

A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).

Hmm. Probably just an artifact. Rich white dudes are in charge and probably don't have many employees that disagree with them. Thus, they wind up thinking that their shit doesn't stink. Classic Dunning-Kruger and such.

As discussed countless times on the pod, the actual neurological differences between the sexes and the races is so minute that there's little point in paying attention to them. In real world scenarios especially, IMO.

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The article doesn't mention skin color at all. Freudian slip on your part?
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: DanDanDan on April 29, 2019, 03:52:43 PM
Nope. Statistically speaking, white men still have a huge advantage.

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Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on April 29, 2019, 03:59:50 PM
Nope. Statistically speaking, white men still have a huge advantage.

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But that was not what the study was about. It was about rich people statistically being less likely to know what they are talking about.
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: DanDanDan on April 29, 2019, 04:36:50 PM
Yeah I was just adding my 2 cents.

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Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 06:53:01 AM
I'd suspect the connection is, confidence yields success, doesn't matter if its based on reality or or just bravado.

Another possibility is that unearned success yields unearned confidence.

I think it's something of a feedback loop. People admire and respect confident people, and that admiration and respect make the recipient feel more confident.

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.


I always thought Noam Chomsky was talking out of his ass.

He does talk out of his ass a lot. He's a bullshitter for sure.

But his greatest strength is not in accurately recounting facts. He is (or at least used to be) exceptional at identifying patterns in language which influence economic and political decisions.
Title: Re: WaPo says "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about"
Post by: SnarlPatrick on June 20, 2019, 05:42:07 PM
I agree with Ah Hell. It makes perfect sense that BS'ing and presenting oneself as more qualified than one is, correlates with financial success.
I'd suspect the connection is, confidence yields success, doesn't matter if its based on reality or or just bravado.