Following on from last week's piece about the madmen now in charge of world affairs, the burning (pun intended) question is why we elect such people to "lead" us.
Particularly, why are most of them men, and why are they increasingly incompetent? And why do we see this phenomenon occurring at all levels of modern society?
Organisational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic reckons he has the answer: it's because men are typically more deceived about their talents than women – that is, think they're better than they are - and they succeed because the best way to fool others is to first fool yourself.
Chamorro-Premuzic, who has professorships in business psychology at both University College London and Columbia University in New York City, says his research has identified three main reasons why we hire, promote, and vote for, incompetent people.
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The first is our inability to distinguish between confidence and competence. Across cultures and countries we assume confident people have more potential for leadership, whereas in fact there is very little overlap between how good people think they are and how competent they actually are.
Second is our love of charismatic individuals who seem charming and entertaining, and often have a "dark side" which only makes them more popularly attractive – in short the sort that have blockbuster movies made about them.
In contrast, as the professor says, no one would make a movie about Angela Merkel, who lives a staid, suburban, domestic life, listens without interrupting, makes rational decisions, and has no scandals of note associated with her. She is an exception to the new normal.
And third, the allure of narcissism; backing people with grandiose visions because they tap into our own self-love. Commonly, this is expressed in "celeb culture", where people are admired simply for being famous, even if being famous is the sum of their fame.
Much of the hyped-up advice given out to "strengthen" young people for the hard yards ahead revolves around slogans such as, "if you think you're great, you are", and "be yourself no matter what people think", and so on.
But this, Chamorro-Premuzic says, creates a surplus of leaders who are unaware of their limitations, see leadership as an entitlement, lack empathy and self-control and act without integrity. Whereas the best leaders care for others and what they think, including of them.
This strikes a lot of chords, particularly in regard to the "smart money" men, who seem to believe that just because they can manipulate finance, they must be the masters of the universe – when in fact, especially in respect of social justice issues, they are often intolerably ignorant.
To redress this, the professor advises we look for the right traits instead of falling for the wrong; choosing people because of competence, humility, and integrity instead of confidence and charisma.
And since large-scale scientific studies have shown women score higher on measures of competence, humility, and integrity, this would also have the effect of promoting more women into leadership roles. What we shouldn't do is ask them to behave more like incompetent men.
Of course to improve the quality of our leaders, first we must improve our own ability to select and judge them. And since most of us fool ourselves at some point on these sorts of criteria, coupled with the fact the world seems dangerously enamoured with the dumbed-down celeb culture outlook, that's a tall order.
Still, I suppose it's at least nice to know there is a reason – if not reason – behind the state of the planet and its rulers.
Are we wise enough to wise-up to it?
*Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.