Special to the Mirror by Chas Cornweller
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool” William Shakespeare
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” Charles Darwin
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” Bertrand Russell
Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority. In other words, some people mistake their abilities as greater than they actually are. This is an actual psychosis.
In 2000, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, both psychologist, were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for their modest report; Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. Through this report, they noted that in their studies of undergraduate students and their testing of the hypotheses of the cognitive bias of illusory superiority with these students, they concluded that the research indicated that the study participants who scored in the bottom quartile on tests of their sense of humor, knowledge of grammar, and logical reasoning overestimated their test performance and their abilities; despite test scores that placed them in the 12th percentile, the participants estimated they ranked in the 62nd percentile. Moreover, competent students tended to underestimate their own competence, because they erroneously presumed that tasks easy for them to perform also were easy for other people to perform. Incompetent students improved their ability to correctly estimate their class rank after receiving minimal tutoring in the skills they previously lacked, regardless of any objective improvement gained in said skills of perception.
This leads me to believe that one’s perception of one’s self is the motivating factor in dialogue, discourse, belief and knowledge acumen. Using this assessment, makes it so much easier when realizing that so many blowhards, dyed-in-the-wool racists, leaders of the free and not-so-free world, pundits, politicos, religious leaders (although they could be excused as just playing us for the cash!) newscasters and news outlet owners are not only dangerous, but hopelessly incompetent. Not that that is reassuring, let me guarantee you that. More wars and economy crashes have been stumbled into than planned, I can tell you that with a straight face. But, I feel better, knowing that; with all their bluster and talk of the “Best Laid Plans”, stupidity will eventually cripple their rise to dominance. After all, wasn’t Germany’s big mistake turning right instead of left at the Channel? I’m referring to that history changing moment, when that master of the Dunning-Kruger effect decided he’d had enough of bombing the British and decided to go after those dirty Commies to the East. Guess he didn’t read up on his history from the Napoleon era to see how that worked out for France and decided to just wing it. But, you see, that’s how the Dunning-Kruger effect works. I could go on and show case other examples, but you probably see it every day. So, you get my point.
Interesting enough, the flip side to Dunning-Kruger effect is that persons of high ability tend to underestimate their relative competence and erroneously presume that tasks that are easy for them to perform also are easy for other people to perform. To re-hash the second half of Bertrand Russell’s quote…” those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision”. Another quote, just in case that flew over your head, from Confucius. “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” So, you see the psychosis is laced with Common Sense, as well. Ahh…I know! That light went off for me as well. For the rest of you left scratching your head…um, well…try reading the short synopsis, How Chronic Self-Views Influence (and Potentially Mislead) Estimates of Performance. I think ALL of America needs a little self -reflecting on our potential and our place in the world. This is not the time to curl up in a little ball and let others do your thinking for you and to have free rein. If you are in self-doubt with yourself about how to do this, welcome to the club. And congratulations…you are free and clear of the Dunning-Kruger effect. For the rest of you…might I suggest; Why the Unskilled are Unaware: Further Explorations of (Absent) Self-insight Among the Incompetent.