The Dunning Kruger Effect and My Experiences


For the sources used in this blog:

NY Times Article

Podcast on the DK effect

Mr. Theriault’s Blog

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair.”

For me this quote perfectly wrapped up the ideas the article and podcast were trying to teach. The quote was read by Dr. Grayson, at the request of President Wilson himself, when Wilson had heard that the Senate had defeated the League Treaty. The quote exemplifies what it means to have anosognosia and what it means to be close minded and ignorant.

One of the biggest takeaways for me from these sources was the idea that to avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect, or avoid ignorance for that mater, was to solicit advice. But not just any advice, good advice. Like the advice McArthur Wheeler took to wear lime juice to rob a bank without showing up on surveillance cameras, not all advice is necessarily good or helpful. But the point of keeping an open mind and considering pointers or tips that others have for you are what will stimulate growth and learning. Not considering criticism or dismissing others as inferior or not as good as you are the exact premises for the Kruger effect. Turns out that considering yourself all knowing and not in need in any of help is the ignorance of your incompetence. The difference between an expert and a beginner is that an expert is willing to admit that he has much to learn and is ope minded when it comes to his or her expertise. Beginners tend to be overconfident, believing that they are as much of a pro as anyone else. However, the key to being competent is recognizing your incompetence; you cannot know your known unknowns without accepting that there are unknowns that you do not know (I know, confusing, but enlightening once you understand it). Mr. Theriault said it best on his blog, “The farther you go, the less you know.” It’s true; the more experienced you are, the more aware you are that you aren’t as knowing or talented as you previously thought.

Out of the many examples that David McRaney gave in his podcast, from X-Factor to taking a company manager job without knowing English, there was one example that I could easily relate to. David mentions that he once hosted a fighting game tournament with his friend and invited many players from around the country because he was so confident in his abilities in the game. However, when it came time to play in the tournament, he was double eliminated and placed last place in the tournament. He had drastiaclly overestimated himself because he was comparing his talents to his friend’s abilities, not to the champions of the country. Similarly, during the summer vacation, I had entered my first fighting game tournament thinking that I would go far in bracket. However, by the end of the day, I had lost four games out of four and had been eliminated from the tournament.  I thought that I would do well because I played so well compared to my friends, and thought that that ability would make me better than most at the game. I was severely mistaken. I was a classic victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect; I was overly confident and was too incompetent to realize my incompetence in fighting games.

In this bracket I am Lebensraum: I ended up losing four games out of four and falling out of the bracket first round.


The greatest lesson that I learned from the blog, podcast, and article was to stay humble, stay open minded, and realize that you can be wrong. Knowing your limits (AKA known unknowns) allows you to gain experience and grow as a person, being close minded only makes your ignorance more profound. The closest thing I could find to embody this lesson was the following proverb:

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still.”


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