Today’s Bunker Logic and Reason Lesson is on a cognitive bias I will call DEADBEAT BIAS. This one will take some explaining, so buckle up.
Here we go!
Many people are familiar with the Cognitive Bias known as DUNNING-KRUGER (or The Dunning-Kruger Effect.) Dunning-Kruger is a cognitive bias in which people who are ignorant about a subject (or hyper-specialized and speaking outside or broader than their expertise) wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because over-confidence and a lack of real and broad knowledge of a topic prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills. Dunning-Kruger can be an example of a circular evidence problem because those affected by this cognitive bias are generally immune to any evidence that they suffer from it. In general, DK is this… the less you know about a topic the more you think you know enough to speak and teach on it. This bias can multiply in areas (like science and especially theology) where even a modicum of knowledge can be seen as knowing more than the average person. This can lead the Dunning-Krugerite to believe they (relatively) are an expert, even though the information they have is insufficient and often wrong.
So what is DEADBEAT BIAS? Deadbeat Bias is very closely related to DUNNING-KRUGER, but it specifically identifies the parallel relationship between these types of biases and ARROGANCE and CONDESCENSION that exists in specific (or specialized fields) of endeavor, learning, or study. That is to say that there is an inverse relationship between how much you know about a subject, and how willing you are to dismiss, insult, or display arrogance and condescension towards those who are interested (or have real expertise) in the subject. The term DEADBEAT, in this case, stands for “the opposite of ‘SURVIVOR’.” In this case, a deadbeat is someone whose condescension is laughable because they would very soon fail if put to any serious and likely test. DEADBEAT BIAS isn’t the same as DUNNING-KRUGER because the subject may not pretend to have any expertise or knowledge on the subject. In fact, he/she may know they are ignorant about the topic. Instead, they may dismiss it arrogantly (and with condescension) as unimportant, stupid, or the province of ignorant people, rubes, rednecks, backward hillbillies, etc.
Examples of DEADBEAT BIAS:
Son of a Rich Man in mid-1929 before the stock market crash: “HA! I don’t need to learn a skill or a trade. My family has money, and money is what makes money. If I have money I don’t need practical skills. You stupid rubes. I am so glad I’m not dumb enough to waste my time learning things that will never apply to me!”
“We have nothing to fear except backward practices and countrified ignorance. Science will give us all a better life if we just let go of all of the old ways.”
“LOL. I don’t need to know how to change a tire! That’s what roadside assistance and the tire shop at Wal-mart are for!”
“Oh, you’re one of those (winks and laughs) ‘traditional treatments’ (air quotes) people. Sorry, grandma Moses, but we have pharmaceutical companies and doctors now. We’re not dying at age 36 from drinking our own piss water and bleeding each other because our humours are unbalanced.”
“I get my food from the STORE (rolls eyes) where I know it is government inspected. I don’t need to be a stupid, inbred, fascist animal-murdering farmer to eat well. C’mon, it’s 2022!”
“Hahaha, well, if the shit ever hits the fan I’ll just come to your place, LOL.”
“I think it is laughable that you pretend that our society could collapse and revert to a pre-technological period. That’s idiotic. We know things now. Things have already been invented. We might have a hiccup, but we’ll just build power plants and we’ll be back and running in no time.”
“I don’t have to worry about any of that ‘survival’ stuff, lol. The government would never let any of those things happen. Those things are just survival porn for idiots who can’t cope in a highly technical world.”
You get the picture. A form of DEADBEAT BIAS generally exists in many other fields as well, maybe some with which you are familiar. DEADBEAT BIAS – in contrast to Dunning-Kruger – trumpets ignorance and dependence on so-called ‘experts,’ government, and a very complicated system of provision, and it looks down on any doubts or questions about the actual benefits or strength of the system. In fact, to the one suffering DEADBEAT BIAS, ignorance and helplessness are actually signs of faith and superiority. Doubt is heresy and critical thinking is sin.
“I just couldn’t live without air-conditioning, lol. And I wouldn’t want to! We’re past all that suffering and stupidity from the dark ages.”
Note that DEADBEAT BIAS is almost always coupled with a very high level of arrogance and condescension. There is the feeling of invincibility that only profound ignorance can bestow. DEADBEAT BIAS also is bloated with entitlement. The world owes the person safety, security, food, lodging, comfort, etc. “THEY” will never let anything bad happen to me. The person under the DEADBEAT BIAS believes that they are owed 1st world comforts and amenities and that they are not responsible to know anything about anything.
DEADBEAT BIAS is also found in people who may be very highly trained or educated in a very narrow field of expertise. They will then assume that since they have achieved a certain level of intellectual or occupational expertise society now owes them the right to be ignorant and helpless in every other area. With DUNNING-KRUGER, someone who is an expert in epidemiology may just assume they are “intelligent” and therefore can speak with expertise on some other unrelated topic. With DEADBEAT BIAS, someone with a level of expertise in corporate law may believe that society owes them clean food, clean water, and a certain standard of living.
How do you defeat DEADBEAT BIAS? Unhappily you often have to expose it very openly, that is, to explain the person’s evident dependency, arrogance, and condescension as based in profound ignorance and a deadbeat attitude. Some people will be offended by this. Alternatively, you can leave them in their arrogant ignorance because time and events will almost certainly school them eventually.
Thanks for coming by!