I read a column in the New York Times yesterday where Paul Krugman mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect. I’d never heard of it before. Mr. Krugman defines it as follows, “the truly incompetent can’t even recognize their own incompetence.” In other words, or better – in Mr. Krugman’s words - why a Congress hijacked by Republican radicals is at an impasse. Like most of America I’m frustrated by fools leading us nowhere, or worse, toward crisis.
I’ve worked with people suffering from Dunning-Kruger, even been “managed” by them. My attempts to advise them of their disorder failed, miserably. In fact, in one instance it cost me a job. As a wise friend reminded after I’d lost my job, “You can’t fix stupid.”
I think this condition has a mutant cousin. I call it the Kitson-Lichtenberg effect. I define it as “the truly offensive and greedy are oblivious to their vulgarity and money-grubbing.” Brian Lichtenberg is a designer who came up with a series of shirts designed to look like athletic jerseys, each with a number. However, where a player’s name might ordinarily go, he’s placed Xanax, or Adderall, or Vicodin. You can go here to see what these shirts look like and to get a sense of the reaction of the pharmaceutical companies that produced these drugs: http://www.tmz.com/2013/08/29/xanax-adderall-vicodin-trademark-lawsuit-kitson-drug-t-shirt/
You can go here to see what the The Partnership at Drugfree has to say: http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/letter-to-the-ceo-of-kitson-la-remove-shirts-that-promote-prescription-drug-abuse
I wrote to Kitson today. Here’s what I had to say:
“You fools don't get it. Promising copies of Kristen Johnston's brave book, "Guts", for free with a purchase of your obscene drug jerseys is hideous. While you're at it, make one for heroin and put the number 24 on it. That's how old my son was when he died from an overdose. Of course, no one knows who my son is. Who would want a William Williams jersey, right? So maybe you could make your heroin jersey number 31. That's how old Cory Monteith was when he died. That's probably a better marketing strategy. You'll make more money. A word of advice. Don't use up all the low numbers. Some family member of someone in your company will die from abuse of the very drugs you profit from. You'll surely want a memorial jersey with their drug and number on it. Maybe something like Vicodin 19.”
So I’m crabby today. Why? Because I live in a country where people afflicted with the Duning-Kruger effect can take money from pharmaceutical companies to overlook the damage prescriptions drugs are doing to our nation, while people afflicted with the Kitson-Lichtenberg effect can make a joke about drug abuse and line their pockets.
How about some of that money going to The Partnership at Drugfree? Anybody want to buy a jersey that says Will 24? We’ll put the proceeds in the Where There’s A Will Fund: https://www.facebook.com/WhereTheresAWillFund Maybe my friend is wrong. Maybe it’s time to fix stupid.