The Dunning Kruger Effect

Thursday, 25 May 2023

It is an interesting theory – and one that should have great resonance right now as we plough our way through a minefield of disinformation exacerbated through generative AI. But it does seem that the most entrenched views are held by those who exemplify a Dunning Kruger effect. 

The Dunning Kruger effect explains why stupid people think they know it all. Incompetent people tend to:

  • Overestimate their own skill levels (eg they know more than the medical fraternity).
  • Fail to recognize the genuine skill and expertise of other people (they do not recognise the collective wisdom of experts).
  • Fail to recognize their own mistakes and lack of skill.

Dunning has pointed out that the very knowledge and skills necessary to be good at a task are the exact same qualities that a person needs to recognize that they are not good at that task. Thus, if a person lacks those abilities, they remain not only bad at that task but ignorant to their own inability.

Curiosity trumps dogma any day of the week and it tends to be those very dogmatic people who display the DK effect. That’s why schools are such important places as we nurture curiosity on a daily basis. 

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