What possessed Adam Burish?

Usually I just stick with Blues and Thrashers stuff around here, because that’s kind of what my deal is. I do the wacky over at Cycle Like the Sedins, and I analyze random topics usually over on Chicks Who Give a Puck.  But Adam Burish blathering on about Chris Pronger irritated me so much that I just had to pull out the psych book and do a little psychoanalysis – and I figured this’s the best place to do it.

I love being a psych instructor, because it gives me a chance to really pick people apart if I feel like it.  I usually decline to do so, but Burish’s comments, and the time and the place of them, really rubbed me the wrong way.  It’s not because he’s a Blackhawk, but because of the fact that he’s not even that good.  About two seconds after winning the Stanley Cup, Burish drops this load on the ice:

“I think Chris Pronger is the biggest idiot in the league. I can’t stand the guy one bit. I hope I never get to see him again. And if I see him again, I may have to punch him.”

What?  Really, what? Does Adam Burish even know what Pronger has accomplished in his career?  Two bad games against the Blackhawks doesn’t negate this: 6 time all-star, Norris Trophy, Hart Trophy, Stanley Cup, and a career +/- of +175.

Burish brings this to the table: squat.  I would list his regular season and post-season stats here, but there’s really no point.  His total TOI for this series was less than 10 minutes.  So, where does he get off talking about Chris Pronger like that?

The Dunning-Kruger effect.  More post-jump.

What’s the Dunning-Kruger effect, you might ask?  Ignorance breeds overconfidence, which usually leads to stupid events happening.   Look around you some time at the people you know.  Probably not your friends, but the folks at work who are total blowhards, who think they know everything.  How well do they accomplish their job versus how well do they brag on how they accomplish their job?

This effect is a social psychology phenomenon – ignorant people are too ignorant to realize that they’re ignorant, therefore they act like they’re not.  They’re obliviots.  This is obviously the issue with Burish.  I’m not calling him stupid, because there’s a difference between stupidity and ignorance.

He’s certainly not going to have the other side of this effect.  Overly competent people are often insecure or unreasonably modest about their abilities – this obviously in no way applies to Pronger, of course – and they do this because competent people give everyone else the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are as competent as they are.  In their published study on this topic, they stated this unintentionally comic conclusion:

Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.

Um, wow.  So this must mean that Burish thinks he’s far superior than what he really is, and that superiority gives him the chance to say what he wants to regarding Pronger.  Everyone’s going to have a little self-serving bias, or wanting to perceive things in a way that makes them have the upper hand.  But what Burish is doing is basically illusory superiority.  It’s also a classic case of projecting his own buried feelings of inferiority onto Pronger, and apparently some self-loathing, too.

Pronger probably didn’t think about it as much as I did, but he did come to about the same conclusion:


“Why is he worrying about me instead of celebrating winning the Cup? Boy, it just goes to show how much I was in his kitchen for him to be talking about me five minutes after he wins the Cup.  I  could care less what somebody on another team says about me. I don’t play this game to make friends. I play to win.”

At least there’s no deflection or projection going on there.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.