From: FiveThirtyEight

We Asked 8,500 Internet Commenters Why They Do What They Do


My fascination with internet comments began as exasperation. I’d just written a short article that began with a quote from the movie “Blazing Saddles”: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” After the story published, I quickly heard from readers explaining that, actually, the quote was originally from an earlier movie, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” The thing was, I’d included that information in the article.

This was no isolated case: I soon published another story that mentioned, by name, a program called parkrun, and yet I got about a half dozen emails from people helpfully informing me of this cool thing called parkrun.

That sounds encouraging, but I’m reluctant to take these answers at face value after talking to David Dunning, who’s a psychologist at the University of Michigan and one of the researchers known for identifying the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that, as the paper introducing the effect puts it, causes people to “fail to recognize their own incompetence.” “People are notoriously bad at comprehending what they’ve actually comprehended from text,” he said. “The correlation between what people think they’ve read and what they’ve actually read is quite small.” In a classic 1982 study, researchers asked study subjects to read a text that contained blatant contradictions and found that subjects who failed to find the contradictions still rated their comprehension as high. This could explain all those “stinking badges” comments.

Read the whole story: FiveThirtyEight

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