Prompt: "Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming."
1. Mathematically this scenario is actually NOT impossible. That is, if we interpret "average" as the mean, as is usually done when no further specification is given (as opposed to median or mode). Let's say we rate 100 people (sample population) on an arbitrary scale of 1-100 from worst to best. For simplicity's sake, 94% of the population (94 people) are all rated at a 94. The other 6% (6 people) are rated a 1. Thus, the "average," or mean, would be (94*94+6*1)/100 = 88.42. As 94 > 88.42, 94% of the population is above average!
2. Disregarding part 1, here is a less technical answer:
Our perceptions are strongly shaped by our environments. And what is more prevalent in our modern world than media? We are constantly bombarded with information through news sites, magazines, social media, billboards, the radio, you name it! And these outlets are incentivized to broadcast the most eye-catching, heart-rending news. Unfortunately, the majority of that news is devastating or horrific. We see the terrorist attacks, the serial killers, the train-wreck politics, and the celebrity scandals. The kindly next-door neighbor who volunteers at the community center or the elementary school teacher who stays after school to coach softball will never grace the front page, paling beside sex-traffickers and suicide bombers. Because we are more afraid to lose than happy to win, because we fear so much and hope so little, media outlets race to find the most horrific clickbait, the most terrifying and deranged stories to capture your time and money.
And so, if we are drawn a bleak and dire world, if the people delineated to us by the sources we trust are always deranged and cruel or victims of great suffering, why wouldn't we consider ourselves above average? There are many good people out there, but so few ever find the limelight. Good deeds go unnoticed while atrocities are rewarded with big headlines and outpourings of rage. We underestimate our society and human potential for kind, deliberate action.