Dunning Kruger



Let’s talk about cognitive biases: DUNNING KRUGER

The Dunning Kruger effect describes the tendency to overestimate your own knowledge or ability when in reality you have very little of either.

  • People with no knowledge know they know nothing.

  • People with a little knowledge think they know everything.

  • People with some knowledge think they know nothing.

  • As knowledge further increases, so does self-competency.

Importantly, Dunning Kruger doesn’t refer to how people think relative to other people. There is no comparison with others. It’s simply where people think they are at on the knowledge playing field. With the Dunning Kruger effect confidence is so highly prioritized that some would rather be perceived as intelligent than to admit they have inadequate information on a topic.

Also, knowledge isn’t transferable! It is excessively common to see people who are experts in one field of knowledge exhibit Dunning Kruger in other fields because they think their “expert knowledge” transfers. It doesn’t. Why? Because intellect cannot be equated to learning or developing a specific skill.

A great example of this is in nutritional science. There seem to be more and more expert engineers that enter into nutrition thinking they are nutrition experts when they simply aren’t. They criticize aspects of nutritional science and biology that have decades of research support, thinking that all the true nutrition experts are simply wrong. Reality check: your ideas aren’t novel and you are up on Mount Stupid of Dunning Kruger.

Now how do we avoid this bias?

The easiest way to overcome the Dunning Kruger is to just not be egoic about any given topic unless you truly research it. Overestimation and overconfidence is at the root of this phenomena. The discrepancy between the perception of our skills and our skill set. To avoid falling prey—continuously inquire with yourself what your motives are and what your knowledge base is. Play devils advocate via challenging your views and look for flaws. Assume you may be missing pieces of the puzzle and ask those who are more informed for their input.


Bottom line: Check your ego.




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