The Dunning-Kruger Effect


by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

No, it isn’t what you think. It’s not about climate change, pandemic, or recession.  Continue reading because the clues are all around us. It is about being ‘more the show than the go’, ‘putting the money where the mouth is’ and particularly that ‘a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing’.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a phenomenon of overestimating one’s own abilities. It is far more common than you may think.Confidence is so highly prized that many people would rather pretend to be smart or skilled than risk looking inadequate and losing face. A reason to aggrandize knowledge and capabilitiesties to the fact that it can feel shameful to admit that one doesn’t know something. On the social media one will inevitably come across someone who genuinely believes to have the expertise to speak with authority on a topic which they actually seem to know little or nothing about. The general tendency is to think that one is better than average. The average person thinks he isn’t.

Everything happens for a reason; sometimes the reason is a bad decision. That bad decision may be the result of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This Effect can be observed in domains varying from business to private everyday tasks. By understanding this psychological phenomenon, one can approach situations with more humility and strive for continuous improvement rather than succumbing to false confidence based on incomplete understanding.

When starting a project or business venture, the future is translated in terms of positive outcomes, imagining that the business will start, pick up, and be successful. But the success of a business is driven less by a dream and rather more by data, research, analysis, by a customer-oriented strategy and a precise business plan. Some forecasts in the plans are like coming from an astrologer who sees the future results in the stars.

It is a form of mental bias that can have devastating effects on any business but especially start-ups where it can be an illusion that kills energy, time, money, and dreams. It happens to first-time entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about starting a business venture but have little or no expertise or experience and demonstrate a “beginner’s bubble” of confidence.

When people are overconfident that the business will succeed without understanding how it will really happen, their overconfidence may blur the rational decision-making process, and they are tending to make decisions based entirely on their opinions. Poor decisions are likely made, and erroneous conclusions reached because of a lack of expertise and experience which denies the ability to recognize the shortcomings; simply put, not being aware of what is not known. A project may fall to illusory superiority of a decisionmaker by rating their knowledge level way higher than it actually is.

Any successful project should be an extension of data-based and unbiased decisions. It takes a strategic approach to growth. Confidence is a “must-have”. Decision-makers should be driven by their vision and knowledge to achieve their end-goal, but there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence.

Understanding the Dunning-Kruger Effect helps recognize why some individuals exhibit unwarranted self-assurance despite lacking ample expertise in a particular subject matter yet tend to overestimate their competence.  They believe that they possess above-average skills to the point that they feel confident in their abilities and act accordingly and also express themselves publicly. However, a lack of accurate knowledge about a topic combined with overly confidence may contribute to spreading misinformation.

The Effect is so obvious in many different tasks and specialized fields of knowledge related to business, politics, driving, aviation, healthcare, safety procedures, and social issues. It appears in all walks of life of the common individuals as well as in groups of people with shared interests or professions. Overly favorable views of abilities tend to be held in many social and intellectual spheres of influence.

In finance and investing, people who overestimate their knowledge and ability may confidently make unwise or overly risky investment decisions that can result in significant losses. Studies have found that less experienced drivers overestimate their driving abilities. A new driver might believe that they are excellent and take risks a more experienced driver would avoid. It can lead to accidents and other dangerous situations on the road. The Effect also exists in the world of team sports. Less skilled teammates may overestimate their abilities and make mistakes that cost their team’s chances of winning.Overconfidence can lead ‘hobby-pilots’ to operate a new aircraft for which they lack adequate training or to engage in flight maneuvers that exceed their proficiency.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect isn’t all negative. A little extra optimism and self-assuredness could be what is needed for people to achieve goals that might have seemed completely unrealistic to others. Of course, being controversial and having a fanciable imagination for a grown-up creates more attention than being boring and it can be enchanting and arousing.

However, if one thinks that one is an expert, the lesson of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that one should remain humble and cautious about oneself and recognize there is always room for improvement. It is not about dumb or intelligent people. It’s mostly about things one may not be very competent at, and one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know. It serves as a reminder that true competence requires humility and an ongoing commitment to learning and growth.

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  1. That’s why that in life and business, no man is an island, no man stands alone. If you notice most very successful business and happy people, like the Facebook, Google, the Microsoft of this world, were done in partnership, two or more people coming together and share ideas.

    Same concept of getting married..two or more is always better than one. The “Dunning Kruger Effect” only comes into play when people becomes selfish and try to tackle life battles by themselves, whether personal or in business.

    To every positive, there is a negative, it is for people to know the pros and cons, and strike a balance in their emotions and expectations.

    At the end of the day, if we ralyly embrace the attitude that we cannot take anything with us, then all of us can walk around with a happy face and happy life..

    Humility should be the ultimate goal..

    Well written article by the way.. very intriguing indeed..Well done.

  2. There’s a thin line, between love and hate; and, therein lives divorce, alimony and even death at times. Three divorces(two legal and one semi-legal, taight me this. You best believe I’m taking lessons in Prenup 001.

    There’s a thin line, between #confidence and #arrogance; and, therein lives #IGNORANCE. Learning this thing called golf, along with a love for other sports taught me this. The first golf ball I struck, thinking I got this, ended up smashing into one of my uncles glass window, of his home. This happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old.
    My grandmother gave me a whopping which made me, not touch another golf club much less, swung one for over forty years.

    Now, the Captain is saying; “there’s a thin line between confidence and overconfidence” and; therein, lives the Dunning-Kruger Effect who could possibly be related to Freddy Krueger(well minus the first “e”. I forgot to take my #blissful_ignorance medication today). So, I’ll just stay in this same ignorant lane, and ASSume, that Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is speaking to, the burnt body to include the wings 🛩️ of LIAT-1974 Ltd, and #Gaston_Phoenix aka LIAT-2020 Phoenix 🕊️.
    Captain, my wise grandparents would say, “no hang U hat, wey U cyant retch um!”
    And, “U too damn #force_ripe!”
    Or, #tek time, walk fast!

    The COUNTDOWN is on. Is the #Optimist_Club taking APPS?

    Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
    De’ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

    Vere C. Edwards

    • @Ras. 😂. You have a cool way of explaining the “not so obvious” lol. Keep swinging that golf club brother, it’s a hell of a sport..will definitely humble the greatest amongst us..

      And@Brix. This man in office is the epitome of this deadly syndrome, the very arrogance that have Antigua in the shits today, and going nowhere fast.

      • @Islanman26…ah wah ah guarne?
        Appreciating, the positive thoughts and vibes my good #brother!

        The Essence of Life, as powered by its own #ether is very simple, yet explosive and creative at the same time, in the same instant, as a #balance is created. This to me is #enlightenment(the essence of god).

        I am definitely staying with Golf! I love the challenges, outcomes and the fact that, no two shots are exactly, mirror images of each other. Great for mental stability once you can stay off the “shots” until after the “rounds!”


        Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
        De’ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

        Vere C. Edwards

  3. Great stuff here
    Bob Marley sang about mental slavery, here i am learning about mental bias where we reason and interpret things as we want and hope them to be, not as they really are.

  4. Wow, wow, wow! Isn’t a good education just wonderful thing?

    Anyone who has followed my ANR posts, will know that I’ve highlighted Dunning-Kruger symptoms over the last 12-18 months or so.

    I firmly believed that our own Prime Minister Gaston Browne was showing the signs of Dunning-Kruger, and there was definitely a couple of his supporters (like @ From The Sideline, who’s now gone in to hiding) that had symptoms.

    I’m ecstatic that the author of this editorial letter has recognised that the symptoms of Dunning-Kruger can cause the delusion of grandeur, yet the recipient doesn’t realise this at all.

    Again, Isn’t a good education just great!

  5. Everyone has a right to render their opinions. But, yes, we all know that this overconfidence among many is true and harmful, particularly in Antigua where people who haven’t been trained in a particular field want to take or are put into positions that they know little about or spend all their time trying to tell the trained professionals what to do. This is incredibly frustrating because they often feel the need to put all sorts of roadblocks in the path of the trained professionals or run around assuming that the trained professional is wrong and spread misinformation about them. However, there are of course times when so-called experts do things for immoral reasons so one should never blindly trust a single expert. Experts should always be able to support their position with verified facts/proof. And, it is always best to seek out multiple opinions before forming a final opinion. On the flip side, many people also have a lot of varied life experience or are widely read, and sometimes people assume that they do not know anything about a topic because they don’t have the certificate in it. People should be judged by the facts/information/proof that they present not just on their credentials. That is what used to be encouraged in the past. It’s ok to have an opinion, but decisions must be made based on proven facts. However, these days many people just believe whatever is popularly said or in social media without waiting to find out the facts. Just my 2 cents.

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