This month’s Wired has a great article (not online yet, so no link) by Jason Fagone about the International Olympiad in Informatics where high school students from all over the world compete to solve problems through software. It’s fiercely competitive and has its own sub culture of super stars, namely Gennady Korotkevich of Belarus, who at 14 became the youngest world champion.
What should have been an inspiring and interesting look into this academic sport with open ended problems such as how to best determine the language of a given text string, went sour for me when Fagone brought up US coach, Rob Kolstad, who admits he doesn’t “know how to do most of the algorithms.” After Korotkevich won his second straight Olympiad at 15, Kolstad remarked, “the question is, will he die a virgin?”
I expect smartasses with no respect for the brilliance of these kids to say something like that, but not someone who works with them every day and helps them train. He’s not someone I want to represent the US either.
Sorry, it just made me angry.
When Will Ferrel describes his George W Bush impression, he says he just imagines having a lot of “unearned confidence.” How would you know if you were one of these people? I first heard about the Dunning-Kruger effect in a comment on Hacker News and it immediately made me question a lot of things.
The Dunning?Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes
Throughout my life I’ve forced myself to be confident in my abilities (ie. gotten out of my comfort zone) in an effort to improve my skills and do more things. I’ve always considered being optimistic and determined to succeed was a positive thing.
Luckily, according to Dunning and Kruger if I suffered from this effect I wouldn’t be able to recognize and change anyway. WIN.