The Dunning-Kruger Effect Explains Liberals

Thanks to Cheryl Pass at My Tea Party Chronicles I have learned something new and I always enjoy learning something new. In a reply to comment I made on one of her essays, she suggested that I might want to Google the term “Dunning-Kruger Effect” because she thought it described liberals perfectly. And so I did just that and I can now say that I agree with her.

If  you are not familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect; first postulated in 1999,  here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, then both of Cornell University.[2][9] Kruger and Dunning noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

 Allan Bellows in his article “Unskilled and Unaware of It” at a web site called  Damn Interesting provides us a slightly modified explanation:

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” This is true whether one interprets “stupid” as foolish (short on smarts) or as ignorant (short on information). Deliberately or otherwise, his sentiment echoes that of Charles Darwin, who over one hundred years ago pointed out that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

Now you tell me. Does that describe liberals to a “T” or what? They don’t know what they are talking about but they are absolutely sure that they do know what they are talking about. And no amount of facts will change their minds.

Dunning and Kruger also found that smart people, competent people, tend to underestimate their level of competence. In other words they generally had some doubts. I find that very understandable. Smart people know a lot but they also know how much there is that they don’t know. 

You can clearly see how dangerous it is to have people who suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect in leadership or decision making positions. This is equally true in business as it is in government.  

Here is an interesting quote from the Business Pundit talking about what can happen in a business environment:

…if you have a manager that doesn’t closely supervise work, he or she may judge performance based on outward appearances using information like the confidence with which these incompetent blockheads speak.

“…the confidence with which these incompetent blockheads speak.” Does that sound like some empty suit you know? Let me give you a hint. There are people who say that he is always the smartest man in the room. A classic case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

I would be remiss if I were to leave you with the idea that Dunning-Kruger only affects liberals. Unfortunately that is not the case. This syndrome can affect and does affect people from every walk of life, including conservatives. We’ve all known people like this, haven’t we? However, it is interesting how so many people who suffer from Dunning-Kruger are attracted to political office, government bureaucracy,  journalism, and education. It’s scary.

Many personality disorders can be treated with medicines. For example,  I know people who are Bi-Polar and are able to lead normal lives provided they take their meds. So I scoured the internet to see if there was a medical cure for Dunning-Kruger Effect. I’m sorry to report that there is not a medicine to cure this syndrome. It appears that only radical surgical removel can  help us..  2012 can’t come soon enough.

14 thoughts on “The Dunning-Kruger Effect Explains Liberals

  1. When I found this Dunning – Kruger effect definition last year, I was so relieved to find it is an actual mental disorder and is recognized as such by professionals. It was the answer to my eternal question: “Why can’t they see how stupid they are?” Or, “How can they promote such insane ideas already proven to be wrong?” Or, “Why won’t they listen to reason and facts?” Alas, not a cure to be found. More head banging will commence in five minutes.

    Have a great Christmas, Jim!

  2. I can’t think of a better exemplification of the Dunning-Kruger effect than conservatives using D-K to “explain” liberals. Utterly hilarious.
    I myself have been using D-K to explain why conservatives act the way they do for quite a while. It explains so nicely why layman conservatives think they know better than expert scientists concerning topics of climate and biology, or even science in general. After reading a few things some other conservative non-expert wrote on the internet, without ever reading even as much as the abstract of a peer reviewed scientific paper.

    Oh by the way, after reading this article and the comments, you guys owe me a new irony meter.

  3. This is neither a syndrome nor a personality disorder. What it IS appears in the first sentence of the Wikipedia article had you bothered to read it.

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