Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Why Our Ignorance Makes Us Overestimate How Much We Know

How can intelligent people support false theories?

Is it possible for creative writers to make readers believe nearly anything?

Do you think you know way more than you actually do?

Find possible answers to these questions (and many more) in today’s Re-Blog…


Impostor syndrome has been covered extensively in recent years. Its inverse, known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, is at least as pervasive: our innate tendency to confidently claim expertise in topics we know very little about, sometimes to embarrassing (if not tragic) results. Writing for Pacific Standard, David Dunning, who led the first studies of this phenomenon, explores the ways in which our inflated sense of knowledge is a defining attribute of human nature.

The way we traditionally conceive of ignorance—as an absence of knowledge—leads us to think of education as its natural antidote. But education, even when done skillfully, can produce illusory confidence. Here’s a particularly frightful example: Driver’s education courses, particularly those aimed at handling emergency maneuvers, tend to increase, rather than decrease, accident rates. They do so because training people to handle, say, snow and ice leaves them with the lasting impression that they’re permanent experts…

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2 responses to “Why Our Ignorance Makes Us Overestimate How Much We Know

  1. Jane Watson August 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I absolutely loved this post and the article it lead me to by David Dunning. His observations on the Dunning-Kruger effect lifted so many veils from my eyes…:-)


  2. Alexander M Zoltai August 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    So glad you found it of value, Jane.


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