Overconfidence Leads to Success

Overconfidence Leads to Success

We were reading a thought-provoking article:

Guest Post: The Wages Of Overconfidence Is Success

As noted, Professor Camerons conclusion that confidence often trumps competence is not a new one but where former studies have focused on why overconfidence is prevalent, Cameron is more interested in why overconfidence often leads to success. And his answer is as simple as it is mortifying.

Talent and intelligence are hidden qualities, and unless you observe someone at work all the time, its difficult to know how hard he or she works, Cameron explains, This means that individuals who are able to convey the image of talent and industriousness will have an advantage over others.

Discernment of genuine talent in others requires insightful observers who do not confuse style for substance and sizzle for flavor. Many people lack the twin traits of sensitivity and skepticism needed to perceive true substance in others and find it much easier just to assume that confidence is an indicator of actual talent. Naturally, they then conclude the most confident people surely must also be the most talented.

Ironically, this inevitably disadvantages perfectionists in our society, who are often exceptionally talented. They strive for flawlessness in their efforts and are harsh critics of self when they fall even a tiny bit short of perfection.

Why do we bring that up? Yesterday’s Nature News commentary

Genome assembly contest prompts soul- searching

got misinterpreted in some other circles.


In our understanding, the genome assembly groups made amazing progress over the last five years, and allowed small groups to do ‘big science’ by democratizing access to sequencing. In 2007, we never expected that it would be possible to assemble anything bigger than bacterial genomes from tiny Illumina reads. The ‘soul-searching’ is actually to take the programs to the level of perfection, and being “harsh critics of self when they fall even a tiny bit short of perfection”.

Written by M. //