24 Dec 2009

Poll Results -- We so smart! Er?

Hey! There's a new poll (climate adoption) to the right ---->
Are you smarter than the average person answering this question?

72 votes total

This poll (of the Lake Wobegon effect) can be interpreted in two ways:
  1. Respondents suffer from "Illusory superiority, a that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others." The question and results (>50% cannot be smarter!) are obviously incompatible with reality, which is why it's called illusory!
  2. Respondents failed to coordinate their answers (yes/no) to arrive at a 50/50 balance. Although many people may feel that they are smart, most of them are unwilling to say that they are smartER when they are in a group of peers. Respondents who were thinking that way would be interested in voting 50/50, but they had to choose yes or no. The fact that results are not 50/50 indicates that respondents were NOT all pursuing it (e.g, 16 people thought they were smarter), or that they failed to coordinate -- an easy problem to solve if you could look at the results before voting.
Bottom Line: It's important to remember that none of is is smarter than all of us, and that we are probably dumber than average on MANY things (learning opportunity!). Further, we should keep in mind that information and coordination problems make it hard to turn even the best intentions into good results (read Hayek!)


  1. This was your best poll. Wonderful.

    As for the Lake Wobegon effect, everybody focuses on his statement, but nobody recognizes that we exemplified the effect as it is described in his characters: self deprecatory almost to a fault.

  2. I thought I proved I was smarter than the average person responding to the question by not answering the question ;)

  3. There are at least two ways to interpret these results such as they are consitent with the truth.
    First, I suggest you revise the difference between the average and the median. A distribution might easily have 70% of observations above average.
    Second, as stated, eveyone answering might be smarter than 'the average person'. One would think readers of this blog in general are smarter than the average person.

    Oh well, merry Xmas and Happy New Year.

  4. @Morten - re: second - reread the question. re: first - isn't intelligence normally-distributed?

    As for myself, I answered "no," thereby proving that I understood both the question and the statistic, and am thus smarter than the average person answering the question... so I'm also a liar! :D


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