Icarus and Hubris

That’s not the name of a pop group or a group of lawyers. It’s a mythology and an attitude. And in this case, they’re one and the same.

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence.

Icarus: In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the very same Labyrinth. But the great craftsman’s genius would not suffer captivity and he devised a way of to get free.

Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father, Daedalus, constructed from feathers and wax. But Icarus, dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax.  Naturally, the wax melted, the feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea. This perhaps was the first example of hubris – an over-weening pride in one’s own ability.

One can see it applied many ways. Certainly in sports. Back it up as Babe Ruth did when pointing to the outfield, he unloaded a home run to that very location. That wasn’t hubris. That was ability.

Today we see it in numerous forms, politics for certain, and most recently manifested in the Dunning-Kruger effect, a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. There’s no apparent ability displayed.

And like Icarus, their wax will melt and the inevitable plunge will occur. The question remains – when?  #bmeisterman.com

The devil you know vs…

At what point in a person’s life does self-awareness seep in? Or perhaps the question should be, does everyone achieve self-awareness? The fates aren’t that egalitarian. Arguably, they appear to be sheltering-at-home lately, wherever that may be, and not doling out that quality broadly. I would posit that at no time in our recent history has there been a greater lack of self-awareness than now. Yes, the fates are either staying at home or are enjoying no small amount of Schadenfreude over the current state of affairs.

Nowhere is that lack of self-awareness more apparent than in government. Not just at the national level, but state and local as well. There are those carelessly handing down edicts whose ramifications will be felt for generations. There has been too much division in this country for too long, the latest line of demarcation being old vs. young. Who gets to live and, well, you know the argument.

In the ’60’s, one of the rallying cries was “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Has that come to pass? Were I still in that demographic, I could very well be carrying that placard. It seems that too many of those in power shouldn’t be trusted with those decisions affecting our lives and not surprisingly, they are over 30. Maybe we should have paid more attention to that slogan.

Some are just simply over their heads, flailing about (see Peter principle below) with maybe some cognizance of their limitations. Others believe their own PR and are enamored with their self-importance (see Dunning-Kruger below) and believe in an unrivaled omnipotence. Both are dangerous, one more than the other.

So you decide, the devil you know or… Who wants to make that decision?

Info dump: To keep all things equal, the source for the information below is Wikipedia (for better or worse).

The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another. (Wikipedia)

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. (Wikipedia)   #bmeisterman.com

A bright idea… no, not really.

The next morning, Jacob Will will wonder whose bright idea it was to get into a political discussion in a Southern bar. Being a Yankee, it wasn’t enough that he was on unfamiliar ground, he had been drinking. Being a somewhat drunk Yankee, he probably had it coming.

And now, he was a hung-over Yankee with a black eye. It wasn’t a bright idea at all, rather it was pretty damn dim.