Why dumb people think they know everything

OPINION

There is something that explains so much about the world today. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. As effects go, it’s really my favourite. Officially, the effect holds that those who have very limited skills or knowledge in a certain area tend to overrate their own abilities in that area.

The idea here is that a person needs a level of knowledge, skill or experience in that area before they can gauge how good they are at it.

Ironically, those who are good tend to under-rate their own abilities, because they are keenly aware of how much they don’t know.

More colloquially, the Dunning-Kruger Effect means some people are too stupid to realise just how stupid they are.

Chances are you know people who suffer from it.

That woman who knows nothing about a subject but insists on giving advice about it – even to those with more experience? Well, she’s got it.

And that guy in the office who, everyone recognises as just terrible at his job but he himself thinks he's a top performer? He’s got it too.

The effect explains a lot about both Donald Trump and the people who vote for him.

Trump has an enormous opinion of himself; he routinely speaks about how smart he is, how skilled he is and how much more he knows than everyone else.

The thing is, he doesn't know anything about so many of these areas. But it doesn’t stop him from over-rating himself.

Psychologist David Dunning (the “Dunning” in “Dunning-Kruger”) has said it also explains why so many people support him despite his habit of saying and doing stupid stuff.

They’re not excusing him when he says dumb stuff.

Rather, they simply lack the knowledge to recognise what he’s saying is dumb.

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