The pathology of conservatism

Ever wonder why conservatives act the way they do? Turns out they may all be suffering from a well-documented psychological phenomenon that makes them think they're super smart, while they are, in fact, idiots. An unrelated post on Kottke.org drew my attention to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, or the tendency for individuals with little knowledge to systematically think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge. Individuals experiencing the Dunning-Kruger Effect consistently fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy, and vastly overestimate their skills. Or, in the slightly more poetic phrasing of Charles Darwin, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

The Dunning-Kruger Effect would explain Rove, Cheney and Bush's single-minded determination to invade Iraq, despite reams of contradictory evidence. They were convinced of their genius status, and knew way more than all those intelligence analysts and academics. Unfortunately, whilst in the thrall Dunning-Kruger, they failed to recognize that they were actually morons.

Here are some other things potentially explained by the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

  • Stephen Harper's climate change plan;
  • The Bush Administration's denial that global warming even exists;
  • 'New' Coke;
  • The last federal Liberal election campaign;
  • Anything Bill O'Reilly has ever said; and
  • Ezra Levant's entire life so far.

Better living through psychology. This is what makes many conservatives so dangerous- the profound confidence they have all the answers, without any intelligence, insight or actual solutions to back it up.