Science Friday: Ninth (or tenth if you still believe in Pluto) Planet “Found” | You Don’t Know as Much as You Think: False Expertise


Scientists are reconsidering the number of planets in our solar system — there may be nine in it after all, but Pluto still isn’t one of them (according to scientists).

In the badlands beyond Neptune and past the ring of icy debris known as the Kuiper belt, of which Pluto is a resident, it’s possible there’s another planet orbiting our sun. Where Neptune takes 165 years to make a full rotation around the sun, Planet Nine (or Ten if you still consider Pluto a planet) could take 10,000 to 20,000 years to make a full trip.

Caltech Astrophysicist Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are the two scientists credited for this potential discovery. They “found” it through mathematical models and simulations. The planet hasn’t been observed directly through a telescope, however astrophysicists have long known that the structure of our solar system doesn’t add up. The two made their case for this Planet Nine in a report published in The Astronomical Journal.



You Don’t Know as Much as You Think: False Expertise

New research suggests that people who think they are experts tend to fall into the trap of overclaiming

It is only logical to trust our instincts if we think we know a lot about a subject, right? New research suggests the opposite: self-proclaimed experts are more likely to fall victim to a phenomenon known as overclaiming, professing to know things they really do not.

People overclaim for a host of reasons, including a desire to influence others’ opinions—when people think they are being judged, they will try to appear smarter. Yet sometimes overclaiming is not deliberate; rather it is an honest overestimation of knowledge.

In a series of experiments published in July in Psychological Science, researchers at Cornell University tested people’s likelihood to overclaim in a variety of scenarios. In the first two experiments, participants rated how knowledgeable they believed themselves to be about a variety of topics, then rated how well they knew each of 15 terms, three of which were fake. The more knowledgeable people rated themselves to be on a particular topic, the more likely they were to claim knowledge of the fake terms in that field. In a third experiment, additional participants took the same tests, but half were warned that some terms would be fake. The warning reduced overclaiming in general but did not change the positive correlation between self-perceived knowledge and overclaiming.



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