July 26th, 2014| Topic: RaMbLeS | 4


Apparently the average American thinks he or she is more intelligent than the average American!

Here are the stats from a new survey by YouGov, a research group that conducts online polls.

Compared to the “average American” …
19% think they are “much more intelligent”
36% think they are “slightly more intelligent”
34% thing they are “about the same” in intelligence
4% think they are “slightly less intelligent”
1% think they are “much less intelligent”

A whopping 55% thinks they are smarter than the average American. Only 34% think they are average.

Statisticians tell us that is way wrong. If the bell curve is normally distributed, then 68% fall within one standard deviation of the mean (“average”); 95% within two standard deviations; and 99.7% within three standard deviations of the mean.

In other words, it is impossible for the average American to be more intelligent than the average American.

Or another way to look at the data: only 34% are thinking sanely and humbly about their own capacities.

(And only 5% consider themselves below average! And apparently men (24%) are more likely than women (15%) to claim more intelligence than the average American. But we knew all along women are more sane and humbler than men!)

Maybe that’s why it is estimated that about 50% of resumes and job applications contain lies and exaggerations.

Studies have also shown that this inflation of self-worth is a rather common problem in Western cultures. Steven Heine, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, thinks this is not a universal phenomenon.

As Western society becomes more individualistic, a successful life has come to be equated with having high self-esteem. Inflating one’s sense of self creates positive emotions and feelings of self-efficacy, but the downside is that people don’t really like self-enhancers very much.”

Narcissism is apparently at a high! Another group of scholars proclaimed:

We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with $11 trillion of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion).”

Talking about cosmetic surgery …. About 15 million people a year in the U.S. submit themselves to such procedures. As a practicing dermatologist, I can heartily attest to the fact that a whole cottage industry thrives on our narcissistic culture’s agonizing over the paleness of teeth, blotchiness of skin, shortness of eyelashes, wrinkling of brows, rippling of fat, and the urgency to wax, spray, laser, peel, lift, tuck, and color.

But are these all symptoms of a new disease? I’m not so sure. We were warned of this a long time ago.

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents,
ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
2 Timothy 3:2–4

And a long time ago, we were also given the cure for this affliction.

Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:24

And …

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you
not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think;
but to think so as to have sound judgment….
Do not be haughty in mind.
Romans 12:3, 16

It’s perfectly normal to be … average!


  1. Nancy Drew July 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    It would seem that we also have Facebook to thank for the increasing level of narcissism. Although, is Facebook part of the problem, or did the problem create the popularity of Facebook? Either way, our humility often suffers from these social network opportunities. Just one more thing to take our eyes off The One who matters.

    • Abe Kuruvilla July 27, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      I think you are quite correct in your detective work! Social media provide more opportunities for narcissism!


  2. Tina Mathew July 27, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Very few acknowledge the absolute fact that whatever wonder full / wonderful attributes they possess is God’s gift to them which they’ve put to use in their life.
    For those who believe that the greatness they possess is purely due to their luck/smartness or position above fellow beings, may they humble themselves and take God’s help to realise that it’s only by God’s grace that they are who they are.
    If the Apostle Paul, as humble as he became, was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming proud, what should the rest of mankind be given?


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