The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a principal founded in 1999 which notes that, in general, humans tend to vastly overestimate their own knowledge or ability in regards to numerous social and intellectual domains. Essentially, the less someone knows about something, the more they think they know. This is because the uninformed not only lack knowledge in an area, but also lack the ability to analyze their own opinions as incorrect. We’ll call it the Fox News effect.
A recent chart, seen above, shows just how drastic the Dunning Kerger effect is on people. Let’s use a simple topic like, say, NFL Football. In this chart, a 100 score represents a perfect mastery and understanding of the game (think a head coach or TV analyst). A 0 is someone who literally does not know what football is (Think most Europeans or Ron Rivera).
According to this chart, as soon as someone reaches 10% knowledge of the sport (a rough, very basic understanding of the rules) they instantly believe they know more about it than over 50% of people in the bar with them! This is because not only does the person not understand the game, he also doesn’t understand how truly complicated the game is. I can admit this myself; I am probably a 15 or 20% when it comes to understanding soccer. And yet, because I know so little, the game seems pathetically simplistic to me. I don’t know what I don’t know!
Also interesting is the fact that to the most knowledgeable people in any area, there is a belief they actually know less than they actually do! This is a case of the opposite problem: knowing just how much you don’t know and growing paralyzed because of it. I love football and spend 30+ hours a week engaging with it. All that knowledge has simply left me convinced that I would never be able to understand the game at its highest level due to the millions of tiny moves and decisions that cause teams to win or lose games.
What does this mean for all you suddenly-insecure readers out there? Just be self-aware. Understand that simply because something seems simple doesn’t always mean it is. Also, it’s totally fine to not know much about stuff. It’s just that when you start an argument with people who know way more than you, you come off as a toolbag.