Tango Argentino > Assessing our own ability

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I was reading this article from Steve Morall, and he mentioned the Dunning-Kruger_effect.

    Putting it simply, this actually backs up the "The more you know, the more you know you don't know" saying, with some real research.

    I think this ties in nicely with the "peaks and troughs" learning effect we've all encountered; perversely, we tend to downgrade our assessment of our own ability once we start to improve... In other words, ignorance is bliss.

    What do you guys think of this? Make sense? Total rubbish?
  2. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Thanks for this DB. Very interesting reading.


    "Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
    Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
    Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy"

    The words "tend to" and "fail to" I would have swapped for "may" "can often result in". It is extremely sweeping a comment to suggest that an individual's inability to do something will always result in they being in denial about that fact or worse, simply lie about it and big themselves as it were. More often than not the opposite will come into play (which is what the British do best) and that is to simply downplay one's talent or skill lest we come across as downright disgustingingly braggy. (Even when we fight wars it has to be done with a degree of Etonian tight-lipness along with poker face to melt an iceburg).

    ""The more you know, the more you know you don't know" is very true, although for me (and here I shall relate to my continuing study on the Apocryphic Bible) I would say "the more you know, the deeper your search".

    Me personally, I get a high from making mistakes as then it leaves me room for learning/improving. I pitched my screenplay recently to a producer and the bigger her smile grew, the larger my frown became. :rolleyes:
  3. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Firstly; if you're going to get get an assessment I think you have to have confidence and trust in the person's judgement. It is hard to assess one's own posture whilst moving or dancing or standing still and getting any change into the body-memory is another obstacle; our body will tend to go back to the familiar. Sometimes taking a video of my own dancing makes it perfectly clear where I have weaknesses. Having said that I have danced with followers who feel a lot better than they look and have yet to explain this dichotomy.

    I would have confidence in a trained Alexander teacher or Feldenkrais or a classically trained ballet dancer for getting my posture aligned. In my experience tango teachers have said different and opposite things about where my weight should be and so forth. High heels invitably make for an unnatural posture for the follower; I can see some stage tango dancers lose a certain fluidity in their dance because of the height of their heels but in a lower pair of heels dancing socially it looks easier on the eye and presumably on their legs/feet/ankle joints.

    If you want good grounding and to know how to get your energy coming out of the ground find a trained tai chi ( if they use it martially)or martial arts instructor .

    Mauricio Castro has an intersting and perhaps controversial view; he says something along the lines; If you are taught to dance thinking about a golden thread coming out of your head then you look like you're dancing with a golden thread coming out of your head!
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    PS; on Dunning -Kruger: whole nations have been wrong about things; eg Copernicus and Galileo challenged the RC Church's view of the earth being the centre of the universe.

    And of course Zen is the opposite of the "more you know, the deeper you search". Zen is just accepting things as they are, and not searching/striving.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Without reading the article, i'd say the (summarized) conclusion is spot-on. I try to fight this by taking the zen approach btm mentions, and just accepting that I'm in the process of learning and that there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't.
  6. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Actually, the Zen approach would not to enter a tango class (or any other (man-made) class for that matter) but to sit in tzitzin with our focus directly upon the prana contemplating the bigger and better world that lies within for therein lies the only teacher that we will ever need ... :friend:
  7. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Truer words were never spoken. Looking at video of myself recently was rather depressing. My mental image of myself was a lot kinder than the video was. Either there's something really wrong with that camcorder, or I have a looooong way to go.

    To me, it seems perfectly plausible that certain things that look better might not feel better, and visa-versa. Remember the thread that morphed into a discussion about Tete. Sure, his dancing might look like nothing at all (from a visual perspective), but his followers sure seem to like him.
  8. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    or his reputation?
  9. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I have (hic) stopped drinking Dunning-Kruger, and now (hic) stick with Tennants Super.

    My sense of perspexive is finally adjustulated.

    I larv you Heather (hic)
  10. Dave

    Dave New Member

    Have you looked at the original paper? Because it doesn't really back that up at all. There were 4 topics studied, and in all of them, the people who scored highly were also the people who expected to score highly(*). To be sure, they tended to underestimate their performance, and the worst performers would overestimate, but looking at the graphs, it seems to me the biggest single effect is simply the tendency for everyone to think they are "a bit above average".

    In two of the investigations, there was a pretty direct relationship between perceived ability and actual ability. But interestingly, in the other two, there was a 'trough' in the 3rd quartile. That is, people who were "better than average, but not in the top quarter" rated themselves lower than people in the bottom two quartiles. I suspect this is the "knowing enough to know you don't know everything" category you allude to.

    Again, there's a subtlety here if you read the actual paper. Because it's also "ignorance" that causes the top performers to underestimate how good they are (in this case, it's ignorance of how bad everyone else is). There are two things going on: one applies to dance, one probably doesn't.

    (1) People tend to know people of similar abilities. If you're serious about dance, it's likely that most of your circle are also serious students. If you teach, you probably know a lot of teachers. So you look at the people around you and think "I'm pretty average, really". You're not comparing yourself against the (probably much larger) cohort of dancers who aren't really putting in the effort.

    (2) People have to guess what the 'average' skill level is, because there's no real way for them to know it. And so they tend to think the 'average' skill level is roughly what their own is. This was largely true for the Dunning-Kruger tests, but I don't think it applies so much to dance. Because at least you can judge how other people perform (by watching them). Of course, if the only people you are looking at are unrepresentative, the same problem as in (1) ensues.

    (*) Usual caveats about statistics only being meaningful for tendencies of groups. It doesn't mean that everyone who scored highly would rate themselves highly.
  11. ant

    ant Member

    Since I started to learn to dance I have come up against nothing else other than this principle. to such an extent that it frightens me when someone asks for advise. What you think is right at a certain point in your development you find may be incorrect or there are many other points of view, as you progress.

    As Tango does not have a standard book to work from I find this more the case with AT than any other dance genre.

    I suppose this is all part of the learning process. It seems to me that teachers attempt to correct or progress me in stages, starting with what they think are the most important areas and moving on from there. In addition as some techniques are difficult to master in one go they break it down into a series of steps that they revisit when they feel you are ready. These teaching methods, which I believe are correct however, just seem to reinforce the principle in the OP.
  12. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    But it could always be as I have heard about Tai Chi teachers; that they would make changes to the Form in order to have more to teach their pupils.
  13. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    You could be right about Tete.

    But back to the other point, why should one assume that feeling good would equate to looking good?

    FWIW (probably not much), I suspect there are several categories of "Things":

    • Things that feel and look good
    • Things that feel good, but don't look good
    • Things that look good, but don't feel good
    • Things that neither look good nor feel good
  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    aha The Rumsfeld-dChester Conjecture:

    aha; but you are missing out the observer in all this. When my five year old daughter it is all delight - to her and to me- when i teach I am not concerned with better or best but what can I give you that you are ready for; when I am dancing; I never know what I look like.

    When I am looking for women to dance with I look for women who appear that they miight be nice to dance with ( a or c) or dancers who i am happy do dance with because I am acquainted with them and enjoy their company who might fall into any category.Or sometimes just the second part of a) if i dare admit it.
  15. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Women that look good usually feel good too : therefore you are looking for

    e) Women who feel good, and feel good

    which of course is against all the laws of Euclidean geometry. Cogito ergo possum.

    (OK Im going for a lie down .... )
  16. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Hell, no. Surely you don't mean that Wikipedia is not the only source of information on the planet? :confused: :p

    Everyone thinks they're above-average driver / writer / lover.

    Me, I know for a fact that my driving's a bit pants.

    Good point.

    Yeah. I think there's at least some mechanism for judging skill levels at dance, even if it's rough-and-ready.
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    It sounds like you are countering with the BTM-Einstein Theory of Special relativity.

    Everything is relative, depending on your frame of reference.

    I agree that different people will have different opinions on what feels good as well as what looks good. I hope that's what you were getting at, otherwise I completely missed your point.

    That doesn't sound much different from me.
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I think what i might have beens saying if I had actually thought about it before saying anythin at all. Why do we make judgements about our own and others dancing?
    If the dancing is pleasurable for those dancing does it matter if those watching judge it to be of poor quality? Does it matter if its more of a family knees up or a sophisticated soiree
    or as "authentic". ( for anyone interested i would suggest reading Robert M. Pirsig : Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenace)

    I dont think I have a point; thats why i dance tango; to while away the time...
  19. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member

    Learning Matrix

    This applies to how we learn:

    1 - unconscious incompetence

    2 - conscious incompetence

    3 - conscious competence

    4 - unconscious competence

    For certain skills in certain roles stage 3 conscious competence is perfectly adequate.

    Progression from stage to stage is often accompanied by a feeling of awakening - 'the penny drops' - things 'click' into place for the learner - the person feels like they've made a big step forward, which of course they have.
  20. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    ...and, in my case, that "click" is rapidly followed by the feeling of every bit of learnign going completely out the window, and every aspect of my dancing having gone straight to hell.

    *sigh* Ahhh, tango... :D

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