Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

An Ig Nobel-winning study showed that, on average, people overestimate their ability, and the most incompetent people overestimate their ability the most, both in absolute terms and relative to their peers. I dabble a lot in subjects I don't know much about. I even read the aforementioned study and thought it was very well-presented, and its arguments in favor of the hypotheses were well-formed, even though I am not a psychologist and my knowledge of statistics is vague. Which makes me wonder just how competent I really am. According to the study results, if I believe I'm in the 3rd quartile of competence, I'm probably right, so maybe I'll say I think I am in the 3rd quartile just so people will have to assume I'm better than average.

Dabbling a lot in subjects I'm no expert in and reading lots of Wikipedia articles probably makes me broadly informed but rather fallible, which I don't like so much; I'd rather be narrow-minded but always acutally right. Even so, I'm too curious not to try to figure stuff out on my own. So discovering a website that displays the Greek New Testament with a pop-up window for every word which lists translations, a definition and (best of all!) the word's grammatical attributes, opens up a whole new world of trouble for me to get into. I don't know ancient Greek nor any accepted methods for translating Biblical texts, but I'm definitely going to have to fool with this a bit. I promise not to publish my own version of the Bible or propagate any heretical readings of The Gospel of John, if that makes things any better.