THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT. Nick recommended that I post on the “Dunning-Kruger effect.” I had not heard the phrase before, but when I read this wikipedia article, I recognized the behavior immediately. It’s nice to see that the effect has not only been named, but has been studied scientifically. The Dunning-Kruger effect is a “cognitive bias” in which “[t]he unskilled … suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.” It makes sense that if you are not good at something, you may be unable to understand that you are not good at it and that the competent may be more aware of the limitations on their skills. There are “studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence.” The article quotes Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

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  1. Nick says:

    Part of why it interested me so much is that I have experienced it. Particularly when I was very young so many skills seemed very attainable, but now I have the feeling that it’s too late for me to begin trying to learn how to do certain things.

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