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David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, and Justin Kruger, of NYU, conducted a study that showed people are inherently unable to judge not only their own competence, but the competence of other people.

In one test, participants were asked to take a test to measure their knowledge and then asked to grade other students’ tests. The participants who did the worst also graded the worst. Basically, they weren’t even able to spot the right answers when they saw them.

One strange finding from the study was most people, even morons, seemed able to readily agree on the worst performers, just not the best.

A sociologist in Germany, Mato Nagel, did additional research and concluded that democracies rarely elect the best leaders, but tend to elect the ones that are slightly above mediocre. However, democracies do have a distinct advantage over dictatorships and communist regimes because they effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from being leaders.”

In a way this is sort of a win for democracy. We might miss out on electing a great president, but at least we’ve managed to avoid a Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao.