Confidence + Confidence = Over-confidence?

Over Confidence Picture Cartoon Inflated Ego Weekly Show

I’ve been thinking lately, and not just about Pokémon and food. I’ve met many smart people in my life, all of whom deserve to feel proud and confident of their ideas. Yet some of them exude more self-assuredness than others, a fierce conviction that borders dogma. What is the difference between confidence and over-confidence?

Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” This begins to embody our question. Some friends of mine, for instance, are sure of themselves in an unflattering way. It is one thing to believe you have a valid point; it is something else to believe your point is undeniably correct.

Over Confidence Picture Cartoon Inflated Ego Weekly Show

At what point does self-assuredness become detrimental?

Part of the inspiration for this post came from dinner with a friend last week. She is a smart person, and I respect her. Even so, if you mention her name to someone, the first topic to come up is how aggressive she is with her opinions. I alluded to this at dinner by way of asking why she argues so forcefully in even the silliest discussions. Her response went something like this: “I’m not overconfident, Andrew. I have constructed an argument, and other people are insinuating it is wrong. I am simply defending what I believe to be true—I wouldn’t argue for something I don’t believe in.”

What bothers me in particular about this outlook is the hostility toward alternative interpretations. Though it certainly has its time and place, framing all discussions like this has its pitfalls. First, it suggests first that there exists a right and wrong in every situation. This is closed minded. Second, it assumes that solutions and conclusions are singular, which paves the way for dogma.

Over Confidence Picture Cartoon Cat Dogs Funny Meme Weekly Show

“Those does have no idea what’s coming for them.”

The most inspiring moments in my life have been instances of discovery, but not in the traditional sense of empowerment. Every day I develop a fuller appreciation of the saying “The more I see, the less I know.” While I become more confident in my abilities and passionate about certain topics as I learn, it becomes strikingly clear to me there are many ways of understanding the same situations. I am inspired by the vastness of the unknown, the potential for learning, and our ever-growing insignificance. We sit on a lonely rock orbiting a lonely star in a snapshot of space and time…if there is one takeaway, it is that there is much we do not know.

In this week’s episode of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out that science doesn’t care about name or reputation. All that matters is the quality of your facts and the logic of your argument. As soon as we embrace an idea for the wrong reasons, however, we hold ourselves back. Overconfidence can thus be characterized as believing for the wrong reasons. While my friend might not like to admit it, she believes her opinions not because of their logic but because she has accepted them as true. The emotional attachment undermines her validity as a thinker. As soon as we become convinced of something “because it is right,” we lose the ability to question it.

I need to go to sleep, so I’m going to postpone this thought for now. I can write/ramble more about this in a future post. If you want to hear more about food, Pokémon, music, and science, go ahead and check me out on Twitter. As always, please share, like, comment, and subscribe if you like the post. Don’t forget to subscribe for more science/ramblings every Wednesday–it’s FREE!

Comment question of the week

Where does confidence become over-confidence? Is Mark Twain right?

You might also like:

How Earth Destroyed the Ninth Planet

You Are Made of Beautiful Stardust

Is It Okay to Question Science?

In the news:

How to Be More Confident: 5 Research Backed Methods (TIME)

Jon Hamm: Over-Confidence Is Delusional (Yahoo)

Christiane Amanpour Calls “Confidence Gap” B.S. (NY Mag)


Cosmos premiere review: fasten your seatbelts

Cosmos Poster Promo Seth McFarlane Neil deGrasse Tyson Weekly Show

In the 1980, famed astronomer Carl Sagan popularized science with his show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. His show not only brought science to the masses but fostered a passion for discovery in viewers. Thirty-four years later, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is trying to resume Sagan’s mission with his new show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

First things first: in case you don’t know Neil deGrasse Tyson (and you should), he is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space as well as a research associate in astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He is the former host of PBS’s educational science program NOVA: Science Now. Known for his intelligence and his wit, Tyson is a regular on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. If anyone can capture Sagan’s spark, it’s Tyson.

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Everything in science is wrong

In 1900, mathematician and physicist Lord William Thomson Kelvin proclaimed, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Kelvin was wrong, of course. In fact, he could not have been more incorrect—the next few decades alone saw the discovery of general relativity, other galaxies, radioactivity, and quantum mechanics, to name a few fields.

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Are faith and science compatible?

Darwin Fish Evolution Faith Science Compatible Weekly Show

Since this blog’s inception, I’ve tried to keep it as non-partisan as possible. Regular readers can probably deduce my leanings, but I have purposely strayed from any controversial subjects. Today that ends. With the near year this blog is going to address some of the most controversial topics in science and shed some much-needed light on important issues. First up: the relation between faith and science.

Before diving in, let me clarify the question. I am not asking whether science and religion can coexist. Many scientists are religious and have been for centuries. This is a fact. Rather, I want to explore whether science and religion make sense together, if they are compatible systems of discovery. Let’s stir the water.

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Showcase SuperLux: a movie theater for the one percent

Have forty dollars and need to spend it? Do I have the place for you. Welcome to the new Showcase Cinema SuperLux or, as the official website describes it, a theater that “blends advanced movie entertainment, food and drink, technology, design, and service to deliver an unparalleled experience.” Here you can find the luxury elements your movie outings have been missing. But is it worth your hard-earned money?

Showcase SuperLux Movie Theater Theatre Fancy Luxury Street Chestnut Hill Weekly Show Review

Welcome to luxury.

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