1954: Impostor Syndrome

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 14:46, 12 February 2018 by (talk) (Transcript)
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Impostor Syndrome
It's actually worst in people who study the Dunning–Kruger effect. We tried to organize a conference on it, but the only people who would agree to give the keynote were random undergrads.
Title text: It's actually worst in people who study the Dunning–Kruger effect. We tried to organize a conference on it, but the only people who would agree to give the keynote were random undergrads.


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I don't know much about the topic, so I'd rather direct you towards reading the Impostor syndrome and Dunning–Kruger effect Wikipedia articles. These are written by far more knowledgeable people than myself and thus can help you better understand these phenomenons and in turn the comic, if you didn't already. Sorry I wasn't more helpful and thanks for reading my attempt to educate you.


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[Cueball is addressed by Megan and another woman.]
Megan: This is Dr. Adams. She's a social psychologist and the world's top expert on imposter syndrome.
Dr. Adams: Haha, don't be silly! There are lots of scholars who have made more significant…
Dr. Adams: … Oh my God.

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I mean, what's to explain here? Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect and then re-read the comic, if you didn't get it on the first try... I guess these two phenomenons also bar me from actually creating the wiki page :D 14:30, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

One could easily assume that virtually everyone who edits this page would be suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect; after all, how many experts in psychological diagnosis could there be in this community. (UNLESS they're feeling too insecure about their accomplishments to muster the confidence needed to post their thoughts ...?)Mr. I (talk) 15:20, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

I think this assumption would be wrong - or at least very inaccurate. I would assume that most part (if not all) of this community is very able to see that they are no experts on psychology (except, of course, of those who actually are). That said, I'd think Randall isn't, either. However this would not stop neither him from making jokes about the concepts nor "us" from trying to explain it - if only by copying the text from wikipedia and/or building upon the explanation given there. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 15:33, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

I think the current text misunderstands the role of general intelligence and domain-specific skills in the D-K effect. Nothing I've read suggests that intellectual capacity has much to do with one's ability to accurately estimate performance levels; instead, it seems to be largely based on unfamiliarity with what good and bad performance looks like in whatever domain is being measured. In other words, it's not stupid people who think they're better drivers than they actually are; it's people who are actually bad drivers. The D-K effect is EXACTLY that non-experts will claim high-level expertise, while genuine experts will disclaim it. (See figures 1-4 of the original paper: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= 20:56, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

That sounds correct to me. I'm no expert, but aren't psychologists generally very careful to speak only in terms of domain-specific "specialized" intelligence? The current explanation of the Title-Text sounds wrong. I think the key phrase above, which should probably be used in the explanation is "unfamiliarity with what good & bad performance looks like in whatever domain is being measured". Overall lack of meta-cognitive ability is definitely not a prerequisite for overestimating your ability in a specialized field; More often, quite intelligent people may appear to overestimate their understanding of a related, but comparatively unfamiliar field. And as the old adage goes (something like) "the wise man knows he is a fool". ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:38, 13 February 2018 (UTC)

So who is the world expert of Imposter Syndrome? Pauline R. Clance or Suzanne A. Imes? Capncanuck (talk) 01:09, 13 February 2018 (UTC)

Can I just say this is the biggest "me" comic I've ever seen? 14:00, 13 February 2018 (UTC)

It is refreshing to see that we have a avoided a nasty edit/flame war, considering the current political climate. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 17:34, 20 February 2018 (UTC)

When the social psychologist is sus!😳 16:19, 16 February 2021 (UTC)