Here’s Why Incompetent People Often Think They Are The Best According To Science

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By Mayukh Saha

A person being quite weak in a subject and yet pretending to be an expert is not something uncommon. We come across these kinds of people rather frequently and, more often than not, we tend to hate them.

Well, I wouldn’t say that they aren’t irritating or something, but, maybe, we are being unfair by absolutely hating them. Although not a disease, this kind of behaviour is a psychological phenomenon which we all share to some degree or the other.

Within the domain of psychology, this tendency is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. This recognition came forth, following the publication by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1999.

Their work resonates with the core essence of Socrates’ idea that true wisdom is nothing but the recognition of the fact that we are ignorant indeed.

In keeping with this line of thinking, Darwin argued much later that ignorance is a greater cause for confidence than knowledge is.

As a matter of fact, the researchers of the Dunning-Kruger effect started out with Darwin’s proposition. However, the procedure obviously didn’t involve blind faith in what Darwin had to say.

Dunning and Kruger conducted a variety of tests and, surprisingly enough, all their tests pointed toward similar results. A vast majority of poor performers in these tests had pretty high notions about their results-to-be.

When asked about how they would rank themselves, most of these people came up with some lucrative positions for themselves.

Since its incorporation, the Dunning-Kruger effect has been much sought after within the academic field. Yet, following the US presidential inauguration of 2013, the common interest in the phenomenon has increased manifold.

In fact, the term has been on an all-time high ranking on Google Trends since May 2017.

So, how does this phenomenon actually occur? Let’s see.

Basically, and the founders would agree to this, ignorant people suffer from two sides. I mean, they are not only unaware of something and are thus making mistakes, but, they are also unable to rectify their mistakes.

In fact, in most cases, a bad performer doesn’t probably know he/she is performing badly. This stems from the fact that they have no idea what the correct or good way to do that same thing is.

Had they realised what was wrong with their performances, they would have found a way to overcome the same. Yet, they do not and thus they remain, so to say, stupid.

That being said, it must also be borne in mind that in case these people do realise that they are faulting at something, it’s quite possible that they will accept it. Yet, as I’ve already said, you need something at least to be able to reach that point of realization.

Now, for a brief while, let us reconsider the surge in common interest on this topic.

Obviously, the relationship between Donald Trump and this phenomenon is instilled with a political hue. Yet, it can be a pretty efficient, contemporary example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Despite all the mistakes he makes while speaking, Mr Trump is always high on his confidence. Whatever he lacks in terms of his political skills, he makes up for them through his confident approach to everything, including the false claims and mistakes that he often makes.

In fact, it’s not only Mr Trump but rather most politicians who could be studied in terms of the phenomenon in question here.

Another significant instance of the same was the case with Dr Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon.

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In this context, it’s worthwhile to mention that incompetent people are not alone in this one. Sometimes, highly learned people tend to make a similar mistake. Theirs’, however, is working in the opposite direction. Being so intelligent themselves, they cannot comprehend the fact that such high intelligence may not be a normal thing for all.

So, as we could see, one way or the other, we are all acting a bit weird with regard to our knowledge. A good way to overcome this is to know, by heart, that we can never know everything.

IMAGE CREDIT: Hanna Kuprevich

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