U.S added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time.

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U.S added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time.

The murder of the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi — in a year when more than half of all journalists who were killed around the world were targeted deliberately — reflects a hatred of the media in many areas of society, a free-press advocacy group said Tuesday.

At least 63 professional journalists were killed doing their jobs in 2018, a 15 percent increase over last year, said the group, Reporters Without Borders. The number of deaths rises to 80 when all media workers and people classified as citizen journalists are included, it said in its annual report.

The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three — India, Mexico and, for the first time, the United States — where journalists were killed in cold blood, even though those countries weren’t at war or in conflict, the group said.

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced … by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and began writing for The Washington Post after moving to the United States last year, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October.

His death sparked worldwide outrage. Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the crown prince ordered his death.

Reporters Without Borders said the three most dangerous countries for journalists to work in were Afghanistan, Syria and Mexico.

Meanwhile, the shooting deaths of five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, in June propelled the United States into the ranks of the most dangerous countries for the first time.

Reporters Without Borders said 348 journalists were being detained worldwide, compared with 326 at this time in 2017. China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt hold more than half of the world’s imprisoned journalists, it said.

How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Misconduct.

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How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Misconduct.

On one of the first warm spring weekends in New York City, photos and videos circulated on social media featuring police officers handing out masks to groups of mostly white residents lounging in city parks. That same weekend, videos of police officers — some of whom weren’t wearing protective gear — using excessive force to arrest Black and Brown civilians for allegedly violating social distancing guidelines also circulated online. Videos, filmed by bystanders and community members, are helping to illuminate this new iteration of racist policing during COVID-19.

Over the past six years we’ve seen how critical video documentation can be in exposing violent and discriminatory policing, galvanizing public support around calls for accountability, and on rare occasions, even helping to secure justice in a courtroom. But far too often videos of police violence don’t lead to convictions, despite what appears to be clear evidence of abuse. While people are inclined to whip out their phones and film when they see something alarming happening, those videos are not always recorded in a way that can be used as evidence in a legal proceeding or to support advocacy tactics.

At the human rights organization WITNESS, where I work as the senior U.S. program coordinator, we’ve learned that video has a greater chance of making an impact when it’s filmed ethically and strategically, and released in coordination with advocacy and legal efforts. Using the camera in your pocket can be a valuable way to ensure the world bears witness to abusive policing and systemic racism, help hold authorities accountable, and advocate for the real safety of our communities. To help you film safely, ethically, and effectively, see the guidance below:

1. Safety first
The most important thing to consider when filming a police interaction is safety — your own and of the person you are filming. Filming or witnessing can escalate a situation, and sometimes bystanders become the target of police violence. The risk to your safety can depend on your identity — your background, race, gender, ethnicity, and so on — so it’s important to think about whether or not you feel comfortable filming before you press record. There are important ways to bear witness even if you don’t film, including standing in solidarity to let the person being targeted know they are not alone, or by taking notes. No footage is ever worth your safety.

2. Know your rights
In the United States, you have a 1st Amendment right to record law enforcement in public spaces as long as you don’t interfere — even during COVID-19. But remember:

Whether or not you are interfering is totally up to the police officer in the moment (and later up to a judge or jury), so it’s best to keep at least six feet of distance (or a car’s length) between you and the incident while filming, especially during social distancing.

If the police officer tells you to back up, comply with their orders. You can even film your feet as you’re backing up and say aloud, “I’m complying with orders.”

If the police officer tells you to stop filming, you can assert your right to film if you feel comfortable doing so.

You can stay safe and still film critical footage from a distance, like from a window, balcony, rooftop, or fire escape.

For more information, see Justice Committee’s COVID Copwatch Guidance

3. Prepare before you film
Even though an incident with police might occur without any notice, there are still ways you can prepare to ensure you are safe when filming:

Lock your phone with at least a six-digit passcode, not just the touch ID, face ID or pattern lock. For the most part, courts have ruled that you have a 5th Amendment constitutional right to not give up your cell phone passcode during a legal search. But that right is murkier when it comes to touch ID, face ID, or pattern lock, and courts have ruled both ways in the past. So it’s safest to just stick with a six-digit passcode for now.

Set your phone to automatically back up to a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive. That way even if you break your phone, lose it, or it gets confiscated for any reason, you’ll still have a backup of the video you filmed (we’ve seen this tactic work before). However, backing up footage to the cloud could leave the data vulnerable to legal requests from the police, depending on the company’s policy.

4. Tell a story with your footage
Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t here, what would I need to see to understand what happened?” Focus on details like:

Number of officers present, uniforms, badges, license plates, and any other identifying markers

Are the officers wearing masks and gloves? Are they practicing social distancing?

Are they using excessive force or violence? Are they using any racial slurs or discriminatory language?

Do they have weapons with them? Are they using them? Have they caused any property damage, ripped clothing, or injuries?

5. Try to provide evidence that your footage is real
In an era of fake news and rampant misinformation online, you want to make sure that your footage is as verifiable as possible. To do this:

Film street signs, landmarks, or exteriors of buildings to help determine the location.

Film a clock, phone home screen, newspaper, or something that helps verify the time and date.

It could be helpful to also state the time, date, and location out loud on camera, or write it down on a piece of paper and hold it up to the screen.

You can turn on GPS location services to help verify your location.

Film continuously instead of stopping and starting your camera; this will help fight against claims that footage was edited or manipulated.

6. To speak or not to speak
Sometimes it’s most powerful and helpful to stay quiet and let the footage speak for itself, like when the world heard Eric Garner utter his last words, “I can’t breathe.” But adding commentary to your footage can be a great way to help the audience understand what’s happening, especially if you’re unable to film at a close distance. If you decide to narrate:

Stick to the facts. Try not to include any biased or emotional language. This could hurt your chance of the footage being used as evidence in a legal proceeding.

Think like a sports commentator. Focus on time, date, location, i.e., “It’s 3 p.m. and four police officers just approached two women on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. The officers are holding tasers and are not wearing their masks properly.”

If you know the person being targeted, don’t allege anything about their criminal history or immigration status on camera. Something learned during an enforcement might be used against the person in a legal proceeding.

7. More filming tips
We’re all used to filming on our phones for fun, but filming for evidence and advocacy requires a little practice. Here are some tips on how to make your videos more valuable:

Film horizontally as opposed to vertically to capture more content in the frame.

Try to hold your shot for at least 10 seconds before moving your phone. This might feel uncomfortable, but lawyers, advocates, and investigators will need to be able to actually see what’s happening in the footage to use it. We often hear from the lawyers we work with that footage is too shaky or moving around too quickly for them to make sense of it.

Use slow and steady pans instead of quick, jerky movements.

Hold your elbows tight into your body, just over your hips (like a natural tripod for your camera). This will help save your arms from getting tired.

8. Sharing your video
So you filmed a video, what do you do now? The first thing to do is pause. Take a deep breath. You may have just witnessed a violent or traumatic event, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Wait before you post the footage to social media. Think through a strategy first, or work with a lawyer or advocacy organization to ensure your footage makes an impact. Before you share, ask yourself:

“Do I have consent from the person I just filmed?” Even if you filmed in a public space where people do not have an expectation of privacy, it can be a courtesy to check in with them or their friends/family before sharing footage of a vulnerable moment publicly. In most cases it might not be possible to get consent, but when possible, speak to them before sharing the footage, or give them the footage so they can decide how it’s used.

“Do I need to blur anyone’s face before uploading the footage in order to protect their identity or location?” YouTube offers a free tool for this (watch a tutorial on how to use it here).

“Do I want to share the footage with a lawyer?” If so, it’s best to share a completely unedited version with them. If you make any edits to the footage (including just changing the file name), do so from a copy; otherwise it could hurt the video’s chances of being used in a legal proceeding.

“Do I want my name associated with the video?” Having your name publicly tied to a video can make you vulnerable to aggressions from internet trolls or even the police. After Ramsey Orta filmed the death of his friend Eric Garner at the hands of Staten Island police, he says he and his family became a target of local police harassment. He was eventually arrested on drug charges, and was recently released from prison after serving a four-year sentence. In a Time magazine article that followed up with Orta one year after the event, he expressed regret for not sharing the video anonymously. At WITNESS, we’ve seen it can be helpful to first share your footage with a journalist or advocacy organization so that they can share the footage publicly instead.

“How can I make sure people see my video?” Unfortunately, just posting a video on social media and hoping it goes viral doesn’t usually work, and might not even be the most strategic option. It’s not about how many eyes see the video; it’s about which eyes see the video. To help a video reach the best audience, share your footage with an advocacy organization to support their campaign work and advocacy goals.

“When should I release the footage?” It’s helpful to collaborate with advocates or a lawyer to determine when to release your footage so that it makes the biggest impact. When Feiden Santana waited until the police report was released before sharing his video of a police officer fatally shooting Walter Scott in South Carolina, the video helped combat the official narrative. The police officer was eventually charged with second degree murder.

Source: https://bit.ly/3e1ShMK

Before face masks, Americans went to war against seat belts.

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Before face masks, Americans went to war against seat belts.

A small but vocal minority of people in the US are protesting face-mask mandates.
In the early 1980s, the public safety battle was over seat belts. Most Americans didn’t use them and 65% opposed them being enforced by law. “There was a libertarian streak among resistors,” car safety pioneer Ralph Nader told Business Insider. “They took the stance that ‘you’re not going to tie the American people up in seat belts.'”
More than 50 years after “Unsafe at Any Speed,” Nader said “we are a very hard society to change cognitively.”

State and federal officials nationwide have ordered the use of protective face masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many businesses have instituted similar policies to protect customers and staff.

It’s a relatively straightforward precaution with proven public health benefits. Still, a small but vocal minority is resisting.

Some are fighting mask policies by invoking the Americans with Disabilities Act. Others are starting fistfights or even killing people.

Backlash against public health safeguards has plenty of precedents: When the influenza pandemic swept through San Francisco in 1919, hundreds of “mask slackers” disobeyed the law and were arrested.

Even the seat belt, one of the most ubiquitous safety devices in modern history, faced a contentious battle for acceptance.

The long road to seat-belt safety
As cars became increasingly popular through the 20th century, vehicular fatalities skyrocketed. Between 1920 and 1960, the rate of auto deaths doubled, from 11 people per 100,000 to 22 people.

Edward J. Claghorn first patented an automobile safety harness in 1885, mainly to help keep tourists from falling out of New York taxicabs. But it wasn’t until the mid-1950s that many carmakers even offered seat belts as an option.

Most motorists declined: In 1956, only 2% of Ford buyers took the $27 seat belt option, and the death toll kept rising.

In 1959, American politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan described the situation as “the epidemic on the highways.”

Then came Ralph Nader.

In 1965, Nader, 31, penned “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a best-selling expose that claimed car manufacturers were sacrificing lives for style and profit.

Nader argued that Detroit willfully neglected advances in auto safety, like roll bars and seat belts, to keep costs down.

His investigation spurred Congress to create what eventually became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which required all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts in 1968.

But using them was strictly voluntary. And many Americans didn’t want to.

As late as 1983, less than 15% of Americans said they used seat belts consistently.

New York became the first state to pass a mandatory seat-belt law, in 1984. Other states soon followed.

While there was already clear evidence seat belts saved lives, these measures faced stiff opposition. A Gallup poll from July 1984 showed that 65% of Americans opposed mandatory belt laws, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a survey one year later, drivers said they thought the restraints were “ineffective, inconvenient, and uncomfortable.”

Some argued — incorrectly — that it was safer to be thrown clear from a wreck than trapped inside one.

“In this country, saving freedom is more important than trying to regulate lives through legislation,” wrote one staunch opponent in a 1987 Chicago Tribune editorial.

The auto industry actually supported seat-belt requirements, mainly to circumvent legislation that would have mandated airbags.

But the public bristled.

Some people cut the belts out of their cars. Others challenged seat-belt laws in court.

Massachusetts radio personality Jerry Williams transformed his talk-show into a crusade against seat belts, gathering 45,000 signatures in three months. He managed to get a referendum on the ballot to repeal the state’s new belt law.

“We don’t feel we should be forced to buckle up and have a police officer sent in by the state to make sure we’re buckled up,” Williams told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1986.

“There was a libertarian streak among resistors,” Nader told Business Insider. “They took the stance that ‘you’re not going to tie the American people up in seat belts.'”

‘They’re not community people’
A similar ideology seems to be fueling pushback against face-covering during the pandemic.

Republican governor Mike DeWine of Ohio was forced to rescind his face-mask order, he told ABC News, when he realized Ohioans “were not going to accept the government telling them what to do.”

In California, an anti-lockdown protestor held a sign comparing wearing masks to slavery, Newsweek reported.

Nader says he believes most modern-day mask slackers are fueled by obstinance, not a political agenda.

“It’s just an ornery personality trait by some people,” he said. “They’re not community people.”

The former presidential candidate is quick to mention that few Americans oppose the current public health measures. A recent Washington Post poll found that fewer than 20% of Americans opposed wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

“It’s a tiny percent of the population — let’s not exaggerate,” Nader said.

Americans have grown comfortable with seat belts, too: More than 90% buckle up regularly. New Hampshire — whose license plates proclaim “Live free or die “— remains the only state without a mandatory seat belt law.

But that shift took time. It also took public service campaigns, legal enforcement, and even regular reminders from our cars themselves.

“We are a very hard society to change cognitively,” Nader said, some 55 years after publishing “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

He hopes holdouts against pandemic precautions come around more quickly.

“The same people who don’t want to do social distancing and face masks get in their car and put their seat belt on,” he said. “Nice irony, huh?”

Source: https://bit.ly/3dwZ9lb

Christian missionaries are setting fire to sacred Aboriginal objects.

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Christian missionaries are setting fire to sacred Aboriginal objects.

Christian missionaries are causing a fresh wave of upset in outback Australia, promising to bring people back from the dead, and promoting the idea traditional Aboriginal culture is a type of devil worship.

An investigation by Background Briefing has uncovered dramatic scenes in the Kimberley region, where Aboriginal followers of a Tongan-born preacher have set fire to artefacts considered sacred by many local elders, and dismantled and burned a spiritual law ground.

The approach of some recently arrived evangelists has been slammed by some Aboriginal leaders, including Labor senator Pat Dodson.

“They are a type of virus that has really got no credibility,” he said. “If they really understood the gospel then the gospel is about liberation.

“It’s about an accommodation of the diversity and differences that we have in our belief systems.”

He believes the destruction of traditional culture is “an act of bastardry”.

“It’s about the lowest act you could perform in trying to indicate to a fellow human being that you have total disdain for anything they represent.”

But the born-again Christian converts have defended their beliefs and practices, saying it is their decision to make, and finding God has brought them peace and happiness.

The bonfire at Wangkatjungka

The Aboriginal community of Wangkatjungka has been the site of some of the greatest tensions, after dozens of local people were ‘born again’ and baptised following the arrival of young Tongan preacher Ana Makahununiu in 2015.

Local women called her a ‘prophetess’, believing God spoke through her.

A year after Ms Makahununiu arrived, her followers built a bonfire to destroy ‘satanic’ objects they thought were cursing their community, and filmed the process.

One of the women who helped organise the bonfire said the devil had caused disruption and violence in the community.

“We used to getting bashed from our partners and smoking, drinking with them, every family,” she told Background Briefing. “It’s just not good for the kids.

“It’s not the people really who are getting wild, it’s the devil behind them getting wild.”

A grainy video of the bonfire shows people cheering as objects are thrown into the flames and black smoke billows into the air.

“For many years we have been deceived by Satan and his demonic beings,” an unidentified man narrates as the fire burns.

“Now we throw away all the things that have been keeping us in bondage and slavery.”

Local women have told Background Briefing people started burning things associated with ‘sinful’ behaviour, before escalating to cultural items.

“For me, I was a smoker,” one woman said. “I went back home and get a little bit of tobacco and a paper.

“I take it back to the fire and throw it down in the fire. From that day on, I never smoke and I thank the Lord for that.”

The women then burned the dresses they had worn for ‘women’s business’ — the cultural practices and gatherings shared by women — while a local man decided to destroy a bundle of weapons passed down to him by his ancestors.

Later, worshippers turned their attention on a nearby bough shed, or shade structure, where cultural elders gathered when putting local boys through traditional ‘law business’, or coming-of-age rituals.

“We got my car, my Landcruiser,” said one woman. “Then we just slowly moved it, all the bits and pieces, like tin everything, like poles.”

According to the woman, they burnt it all.

The ‘Prophetess’

Ms Makahununiu’s followers said they happily paid for her food and accommodation so she could stay in Wangkatjungka for about three years.

She now lives in Sydney, preaching at a Pentecostal church in Homebush and working cash-in-hand jobs, despite admitting she’s not legally allowed to work in Australia due to her visa status.

Ms Makahununiu said while she didn’t instruct the Wangkatjungka locals to burn sacred objects, she supported them in their decision to try to cleanse the community of evil.

“My focus was for the people who [were] addicted to drugs or alcohol, cigarettes, all those things,” she said.

“Most of them, they was shouting and happy,” she said. “It was really exciting for them.”

“The most important thing for me is to see the people happy and free not to live in bondage anymore.”

She said she started viewing traditional Aboriginal beliefs as devil-worship after arriving in the Kimberley and meeting local people.

“When they talk, and share the type of spirit they’re using, I can say is very demonic.

“I’ve been seeing that is all connected to witchcraft — that is not from God, that’s all from the devil.”

Some local Aboriginal women like Olive Knight agree. She helps run the small but strong Christian fellowship still operating in Wangkatjungka.

“The spiritism that I grew up with, it was so restrictive, there was lots of fear, retribution all the time,” she said.

“Would it be better to live in a culture that … there’s nothing but fear and retribution, or go to someone who’s loving, a loving God?”

Ana Makahununiu is planning on returning to the Kimberley soon, with a team of missionaries from Sydney.

“We are planning to rise up again and we’re going to travel to Wangkatjungka, and then I believe this will be a time we’re going to bring everybody all together.”

Pentecostalism rising in the Kimberley

Christian missionaries have a long history of trying to assimilate Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, and discouraging them from practicing their traditional religious beliefs.

Peter Murray is the CEO of the Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation south of Fitzroy Crossing.

He thinks some of the new wave Pentecostal preachers don’t understand Indigenous culture and are destroying it, instead of allowing Christianity and traditional culture to live side by side.

“People in the Kimberley are moving onto other churches,” he said. “People are choosing something more exciting that will give them blessings.”

Pentecostalism is the type of Christianity behind popular mega-churches like Hillsong and Horizon Church, which is attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The number of Pentecostals grew by 20 per cent in the decade to 2016, while other Christian denominations shrank.

But the Pentecostalism flourishing in remote areas is based on a more literal interpretation of the Bible and focuses on God’s ability to affect real-world change for followers. Practices like being ‘slain in the spirit’, with parishioners collapsing during prayer in religious ecstasy, as well as speaking in tongues are increasingly common.

‘Penetrate the Aboriginal’

Forward in Faith is one of the Pentecostal churches that has entered the Kimberley in recent years.

Founded in Zimbabwe, the church has 68 congregations in Australia, many in largely Aboriginal towns and communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

At a recent prayer meeting in the town of Port Hedland, Elder of the church Kenneth Chihwayi told Background Briefing Aboriginal spirituality is not compatible with Christian faith.

“We don’t touch on their culture, but you’ll find that slowly, slowly they will stop their culture, because there are some bad things in their culture which do not meet with the Christian faith,” he said.

“They were into drugs, they were drinking, they had broken marriages, they had bitterness, they had all these things,” he said.

“We preach the love of God, and when a person understands and accepted the love of God inside him, he will decide I want to stop drinking, this is not good. That’s how we have managed to penetrate the Aboriginal.”

Mr Chihwayi believes his church is particularly well placed to appeal to the Aboriginal community.

“Generally speaking, Aboriginals mistrust white people,” he said. “They consider Africans as brothers, so they open up to us.”

Aboriginal converts to Forward in Faith believe the church has helped them in their everyday lives, including Bidyadanga resident Sue Mandijello.

“In this Ministry, Forward in Faith, I have found that I changed my life,” she said. “Some years back I was on dialysis for five-and-a-half years and come 2011, I received a new kidney, so just believing God, this is a gift from him.”

But others are cynical about the promised benefits, including Karajarri man Gordon Marshall, who worked for more than 20 years as a police liaison officer in the Kimberley.

“These people, they’re vulnerable, and they [the church] come along and catch them and say, ‘I can help you’,” he said. “I think they just prey on vulnerable people.”

He said one of the most disturbing incidents he heard about was an attempt by born-again Christians in the central Kimberley to bring a baby back from the dead.

Raising the dead

A belief circulating among born-again Christians in several remote communities Background Briefing visited is deceased people can be resurrected through prayer.

Witnesses described distressing scenes at one funeral held in 2015, where Pentecostal converts attempted to resurrect a baby girl who’d died of an illness.

It’s understood the burial was delayed for several hours while people sang, danced and prayed for the baby to ‘wake’.

Witnesses have told Background Briefing the instigator for the resurrection attempt was a pastor with the Zimbabwean Church Forward in Faith.

A church spokesperson said they had no knowledge of the incident, and raising people from the dead was not “part of the Gospel we preach”.

He said the pastor allegedly involved has been on medical leave for about two years, and does not act on behalf of the church.

For Senator Dodson, promises faith could solve the problems of poverty and disenfranchisement are dangerous and misleading. He said real solutions still required work.

“It is about getting effective, real education into these locations,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about strengthening leadership, and the leaders getting supported in their stands for what they understand and know are true to their cultures and societies.”

Source: https://ab.co/2XXIGkv

The Dunning-Kruger effect, or why the ignorant think they’re experts.

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The Dunning-Kruger effect, or why the ignorant think they’re experts.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool,” wrote Shakespeare in As You Like It. Little did he know, but this line perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias first highlighted in literature by David Dunning and Justin Kruger in the (now-famous) 1999 study Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.

The study was borne from the shenanigans of one McArthur Wheeler who, in the broad daylight of a sunny April 19, 1995, decided to rob two saving banks in Pittsburgh. Wheeler carried a gun, but not a mask. Surveillance cameras recorded him in the act, and the police put his picture up in local news, receiving multiple tips almost immediately.

When they went to perform the arrest, Mr. Wheeler was visibly confused.

“But I wore the juice,” he managed, before officers carried him away.

There’s no such thing as ‘foolproof’

At one point in his life, Mr. Wheeler learned that lemon juice can be used as an ‘invisible ink’. Write something down on a piece of paper using lemon juice and you won’t see a thing — until you heat it up, making the scribblings visible. So, naturally, he covered his face in it and went to rob a bank, confident that his identity would remain secret to cameras as long as he didn’t come close to any sources of heat.

Still, credit where credit is due: Mr. Wheeler wouldn’t go out on blind faith. He actually did test out his theory by taking a selfie with a polaroid camera (there’s a budding scientist in all of us). For some reason or another, maybe the film was defective, we don’t know exactly why, the camera did return a blank image.

The news made the rounds, everybody had a good chuckle, and Mr. Wheeler was wheeled off to jail. The police concluded that he wasn’t crazy or on drugs, he actually believed his plan would work. “During his interaction with the police, he was incredulous on how his ignorance had failed him,” wrote Anupum Pant for Awesci.

David Dunning was working as a psychologist at Cornell University at the time, and the bizarre story caught his eye. Enlisting the help of Justin Kruger, one of his graduate students, he set out to understand how Mr. Wheeler could be so confident in a plan that was plainly stupid. The theory they developed is that almost all of us view our abilities in certain areas as above average and that most are likely to assess our skills as being much better than they objectively are — an “illusion of confidence” that underpins the Dunning-Kruger effect.

We’re all clueless

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent,” Dunning wrote in Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself.

“The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

In the 1999 study (the first they carried out on the topic), the duo asked undergrads at Cornell a series of questions about grammar, logic, and humor (these were used to gauge the students’ actual skills) and then asked each to estimate the overall score they would achieve, and how that related to the scores of the other participants. The lowest-ranking students, they found, consistently and substantially overestimated their own ability. Students in the bottom quartile (lowest 25% by score) thought that they out-performed two-thirds of the other students on average (i.e. that they ranked in the top 33% by score).

A follow-up study that the authors carried out at a gun range showed similar results. Dunning and Kruger used a similar methodology, asking hobbyists questions about gun safety and to estimate how well they performed on the quiz. Those who answered the fewest questions correctly also wildly overestimated their mastery of firearm knowledge.

It’s not specific only to technical skills but plagues all walks of human existence equally. One study found that 80% of drivers rate themselves as above average, which is literally impossible because that’s not how averages work. We tend to gauge our own relative popularity the same way.

It isn’t limited to people with low or nonexistent skills in a certain matter, either — it works on pretty much all of us. In their first study, Dunning and Kruger also found that students who scored in the top quartile (25%) routinely underestimated their own competence.

A fuller definition of the Dunning-Kruger effect would be that it represents a bias in estimating our own ability that stems from our limited perspective. When we have a poor or nonexistent grasp on a topic, we literally know too little of it to understand how little we know. Those who do possess the knowledge or skills, however, have a much better idea of where they sit. But they also think that if a task is clear and simple to them, it must be so for everyone else as well.

A person in the first group and one in the second group are equally liable to use their own experience and background as the baseline and kinda just take it for granted that everyone is near that baseline. They both partake in the “illusion of confidence” — for one, that confidence is in themselves, for the other, in everyone else.

But perhaps not equally clueless

To err is human. But, to confidently persist in erring is hilarious.

Dunning and Kruger did seem to find a way out of the effect they helped document. While we all seem to be equally likely to delude ourselves, there is one key difference between those who are confident yet unable and those able yet lacking in confidence — how we deal with and integrate feedback into our behavior.

Mr. Wheeler did try to check his theory. Yet, he looked at a blank polaroid he just shot — a pretty big giveaway that something didn’t work out properly — and saw no cause for concern; the only explanation he accepted was that his plan worked. Later, he receives feedback from the police, but this in no way shape or form manage to diminish his certainty; he was “incredulous on how his ignorance had failed him” even when he had absolute confirmation (being in jail) that it did fail him.

During their research, Dunning and Kruger found that good students would better predict their performance on future exams when given accurate feedback about the score they achieved currently and their relative ranking among the class. The poorest-performing students would not change their predictions even after clear and repeated feedback that they were performing badly. They simply insisted that their assumptions were correct.

Jokes aside, the Dunning-Kruger effect isn’t a failing on our part; it’s simply a product of our subjective understanding of the world. If anything, it serves as a caution against assuming we’re always right and highlights the importance of keeping an open mind and a critical view of our own ability.

But if you’re afraid that you might be incompetent, you could check by seeing how feedback affects your view on your own work, knowledge, skills, and how that relates to others around you. If you truly are, you won’t change your mind and this process is basically a waste of time but fret not — someone will tell you you’re incompetent.

And you won’t believe them.

Source: https://bit.ly/2AqmMx3