Readers of this blog will know that for more than five years, I have posted my yearly goals and my progress (or lack thereof) every month as a means of holding myself accountable.
Oddly, these are often some of my most popular posts.
You may also know that there is enormous amounts of research, summarized in this TED Talk by Derek Sivers, indicating that announcing a goal to friends, family, or even strangers makes it less likely that you will achieve that goal. Psychologists have discovered that announcing a goal to another person tricks the brain into believing the goal is nearly complete, and as a result, effort wanes and failure results.
I believe that I have personally disproved this research through my relentless posting and accomplishing of goals over the last five years. I don't think I have disproved it entirely, but for myself, the findings do not seem to apply.
I also believe that this research is accurate. I believe that the data is true. In general, it appears that the public announcement of a goal makes it less likely that you will achieve that goal.
Does this make me an outlier? Perhaps.
But as with all research of this nature, I can't help but wonder about the stupid people.
When psychologists conducted this research, they presumably studied a random slice of humanity, which means that half of the subjects in the study possessed a below average IQ and a below average work ethic. Some of them were presumably exceedingly low.
What if all the dumb and lazy people are skewing the results?
I wonder about this with most studies that require human subjects. Do the findings apply to a true cross section of humanity, or have all people of less than average intelligence (and truly dumb people) slanted the findings in such a way to make them less applicable to the above average individuals?
I want to see the findings in studies like this be broken out in accordance with IQ. I want to know how the results of the study pertain to people of below average intelligence, average intelligence, and above average intelligence. I want to know if stupidity causes people to behave stupidly and make the rest of us look a little stupider, too.
Scientific results can't possibly apply equally across the distribution of intelligence. Right?
It only makes sense that dumb people would be tricked into believing that announcing their goal is nearly akin to completing their goal.
And perhaps people of even average intelligence are often tricked into believing that announcing their goal is nearly akin to completing their goal.
But are highly intelligent people similarly tricked? I'd need to see the data to believe it.
When the results of research are as counter-intuitive as these, I can't help but wonder who they really apply to.
It's true that I may simply be an outlier.
It's also true that I could be completing even more of my yearly goals if I was keeping them private, but I don't think so. I already do a lot, and I know how I feel every time I post my goals and results to this blog. For me, the public accounting of my progress fuels my fire.
It's also entirely possible that I'm not as smart as I seem to think. I've taken informal IQ tests in the past and scored well, but I'm hardly in the genius category. Maybe I'm just a jerk who thinks he's smart but is just as average as most, and as a result, these findings apply to me as well.
Regardless, I'd still like scientists and researchers to report their research as it applies to subsets of the whole, and to display these subsets across as many variables as possible, including IQ, age, sex, socio-economic status, and more.
I'd like to know if the dumb or the lazy are making us all look a little more moronic than we really are.