The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Let Us Consider This Stupid Phenomenon

Ignorance
Ignorance is a fist.

Of late, the Dunning-Kruger effect has piqued our interest. We’ve often wondered why our boss is the way he is. Why? Professional Moron’s esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, is: stunningly beautiful in every way, exceptionally intelligent, astonishingly gifted at everything, and pretty much perfect. Well… at least he keeps telling us that. Until we did some reading on David Dunning and Justin Kruger’s cognitive bias research.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Mr. Wapojif talks a good talk, but he’s really pretty much delusional and incompetent. He smells bad, is a bit stupid, can barely walk down a road without falling over, and thinks picking his nose in public is “the height of cultural elegance”. So what’s up with him, then? Why is he blind to his uselessness?

As you can see in the above clip, it’s all to do with the Dunning-Kruger effect. We don’t like to get overly political on this site, but this cognitive bias is rather prevelant in right wing ideologies a lot of the time – there’s a certain world leader who fits the bill rather magnificently (and, no, we’re not on about Mr. Wapojif again).

In 1999, Dunning and Kruger released a thesis titled: Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. As they state in the introduction:

"People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

It’s all about illusory superiority, then. Where we’re from, the North West of England, a large sect of the population clearly labours under the issue – we’re often astonished how overly confident some of the people we meet are, despite lacking any real ability. Until we came across Dunning and Kruger’s work, we had no explanation for it other than “they’re delusional”.

But this isn’t us getting all high and mighty here. Look – we run a site called Professional Moron. We’re idiots. On our best days, we struggle to add 13 + 44 together without having to stop, think long and hard about it, and then stump for a calculator on a computer we could never create in a billion years. But, we have the good grace and self-awareness to recognise it. And that’s what we’re championing today: self-awareness.

How do you manage this? Be aware of others around you, your actions towards others, and just consider something before doing it (i.e. not slamming your flat door shut at 4am in the morning and waking us up, like our neighbour did a few hours back). It’ll make the world a nicer place.

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