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  1. #1
    ThatGirl
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    Default The Bus Stop Epiphany Thread

    I had this idea at the bus stop today.

    Why do people assume confidence is fake, and humility is real?

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    Because of self-interest.

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    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    I this thread because it has "bus stop ephphany" in the title.

    I think confidence and arrogance are often confused both by the person in question and the observor. Confidence is usually attractive and arrogance is off-putting. Arrogance reflects an overestimation of one's abilities and subsequently an under-estimation of others' abilities and a closed mind to other perspectives.

    I'm not sure I agree confidence is assumed to be fake and humility real. Both are based on what we know about the people expressing them. If the person in question has expressed confidence in the past but not backed that up with ability, we'll be less likely to believe them. Similarly, if the person expresses a humble attitude but their behavior reflects arrogance, then it will be less believable in the future. Both are based on an assessment of the person, their past behavior and statements.

    In general, we are more likely to reward humility because it reflects an understanding that our knowledge, no matter how deep and broad on a given subject, will be limited by our capacity as humans. Socrates said something along the lines of, I know nothing but the fact of my ignorance. It seems great knowledge is correlated with an understanding of its limitations. Over confidence reflects a lack of understanding of one's limitations and thus seems less rooted in fact and real ability. On the other hand, humility seems more real because it reflects this aknowledgment of limitations and MAY reflect quite a bit of knowledge on the subject in question.

    Either may be overstated, humility may not be a reflection of great knowledge but simply a statement of truth - I know little about the subject. On the other hand confidence may be based on prior knowledge and ability. The correlation above may put one at a slight advantage versus the other. In the long run, people usually use a sum of past experiences to decide what is fake or sincere.

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    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    Socrates said something along the lines of, I know nothing but the fact of my ignorance. It seems great knowledge is correlated with an understanding of its limitations.
    And to unwittingly present the counter-argument: Bill and Ted!

    Seriously, I'm not so sure that great knowledge and wisdom tend to go hand-in-hand; I think someone could just as easily posses average intelligence coupled with exceptional wisdom (George Washington) or exceptional intelligence coupled with, uh, questionable wisdom (Donald Rumsfeld). It's even likely that less intelligent people (at least above a certain threshold) are more likely to be wise, because they have been reminded of their limitations more often in pursuit of equivalent mental accomplishments.

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    Junior Member Stillow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    Because of self-interest.
    I'm going with this one.

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    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    And to unwittingly present the counter-argument: Bill and Ted!

    Seriously, I'm not so sure that great knowledge and wisdom tend to go hand-in-hand; I think someone could just as easily posses average intelligence coupled with exceptional wisdom (George Washington) or exceptional intelligence coupled with, uh, questionable wisdom (Donald Rumsfeld). It's even likely that less intelligent people (at least above a certain threshold) are more likely to be wise, because they have been reminded of their limitations more often in pursuit of equivalent mental accomplishments.
    Hey LR, Long time no talk.

    Trust you to bring in Bill and Ted

    I agree - wisdom is a separate issue altogether. I don't think I mentioned it above. I like where you are going, especially as it involves the words questionable and Rumsfeld in the same sentence

    On a more serious note, where does wisdom fit in with intelligence/knowledge and confidence or humility? I don't equate wisdom and humility. Are you using them as synonyms or related here? Explain - it's late and maybe this will make more sense to me in the morrow.

    I see your point about humility and acknowledgment of limitations - these may be, as I said too, a function of really not knowing enough and as you elaborated, being reminded of that on a regular basis. However, they may very well be quite self aware -- the more you know, the more questions you have sort. Isn't that an awareness of limitations?

    Being satisfied with superficial answers could just as likely lead to overconfidence in one's abilities as could a fair assessment of the same lead to confidence.

    In the absence of compelling evidence, I can see why one would favor the former. - humility. Both underlying causes are admirable - acknowledging you don't know and acknowledging limitations. With the latter, there's greater risk - 50/50 of being faced with real ability versus overconfidence based on less.

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    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    On a more serious note, where does wisdom fit in with intelligence/knowledge and confidence or humility? I don't equate wisdom and humility. Are you using them as synonyms or related here? Explain - it's late and maybe this will make more sense to me in the morrow.
    I view humility as an important (and possibly the least subjective) aspect of wisdom; its one thing for an intelligent person to know that they are right about things more often than most other people, but its a mark of wisdom to know that they are ignorant of or wrong about complicated reality far more often than they are right about it-and the more large numbers of individuals (comprised of immeasurable brain chemicals responding to infinite amounts of diverse stimuli*) are involved, the more likely it is that someone is wrong about something important. This realization should inspire caution, even when one is confident of their abilities and believe they are right about something.

    Rumsfeld was arrogant in his intellectual belief that wars could be fought and won with less manpower than commonly supposed, and his arrogance was such that he refused to seriously consider dissenting opinions on the matter. As it turns out, he was actually right about initial military operations (both large-scale and small), but disastrously wrong about the maintenance of initial military gains from such operations (on several levels, but including manpower).

    I do not equate humility with lack of confidence, as I view confidence (and the lack thereof) as the way in which one copes with self-doubt and puts it into perspective, while arrogance/humility involves acknowledging or rejecting one's limitations in the first place.

    Let me know if anything I said is a little incoherent, I have to go now.

    *as an agnostic I hope that actual "free will" exists, but the practical effect is the same regardless.

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    Branded with Satan murkrow's Avatar
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    Why do people think questions count as epiphanies?
    wails from the crypt.

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    Badoom~ Skyward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murkrow View Post
    Why do people think questions count as epiphanies?
    Osnap, a Te one-liner.


    I agree with Redneck, though, because humility sees the mountain of knowledge for what it is. They know they will never climb it while people with hubris say they've climbed the mountain already, or that they don't need to climb anymore because they've already climbed higher than everyone else.

    The humble man sees himself for the insignificant thing he is, while a prideful man thinks himself greater than what he actually is. The best balance is to be confident enough to know what you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Confidence naturally sees the strengths and humility is from seeing the weaknesses. They can co-exist.
    'Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and its better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.' - Marilyn Monroe

    This is who I am, escapist, paradise-seeker.
    -Nightwish

    Anthropology Major out of Hamline University. St. Paul, Minnesota.

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    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Interesting question.

    I would say because society inherently values humility whether it is genuine or not. This is due to the (false) belief that an individual cannot benefit from humility; it is seen a sacrifice, just as charity is perceived to be, even when it is self-serving.

    In contrast, confidence is seen as a personal indulgence, which must be viewed with suspicion.

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