Saturday, November 16, 2013

Does Their Panic Seem Aristophanic?

Mediaite has a headline, "For Democrats, Obamacare Unfolding Like a Greek Tragedy".

Instapundit says it's more of a comedy, for him. Well, the distinction is often a matter of perspective.

From Mediaite's text: "In a Euripidean twist, it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are meting out potentially fatal blows to the project which had once represented their greatest hopes."

In a Euripidean twist,
Hubris is met by Nemesis.

I'm not actually a big fan of the word hubris, because I worry that its original usage packaged a kind of fatalism - a message to be wary of daring.

Wikipedia says that it means "extreme pride or arrogance", which isolates the issue I worry about.

The real problem isn't "extremeness" as such. Someone can be extremely proud of having accomplished something, and that isn't harmful in and of itself. The problem, to me, is something more like unmerited pride.

Actually, the follow-on sentence of the Wikipedia article captures my view perfectly: "Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power."

Lately, psychologists have been investigating this phenomenon, under a new name:

"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes."

So... if at all possible... before doing something daring... try a test-run in a safe environment. You may learn something vital about yourself and your scheme.

Not truly knowing your level of skill
can kill.

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