Talk:Dunning–Kruger effect

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This Psychology related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


I added the box 'cos it's listed in the box - David Gerard (talk) 23:11, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Oh, really? Add it back then. But I was always under the impression that the Internet Lawz thing was for bullshit we just made up. :S Scarlet A.pngpostate 23:19, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Looks like Π made the box automatically show everything in the category - David Gerard (talk) 23:38, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Not thinking out of the box Syndrome?

There is no cure for deliberate stupidity. (talk) 16:25, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Incorrect description[edit]

Dunning and Kruger tested students on a series of criteria such as humour, grammar and logic and compared the actual test results with the student's estimations of their results that were made prior to the test. Those who scored low on test, those in the bottom quartile, were found to have "grossly overestimated" their scores. Conversely, those with the highest scores in the tests underestimated their performance in comparison to others. This was explained as a form of psychological projection, that those who found the tasks easy (and thus scored highly) mistakenly thought that they would also be easier for others. [emphasis added by me]

How could the subjects assess the difficulty of the tasks before they even took them? That makes no sense.

And lo, I checked the original paper and found that, of course, they provided their estimations only afterwards. What a relief to find out that it's really the article which fails logic and not me. -- (talk) 02:15, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Fixed, or at least I tried. Doctor Dark (talk) 03:44, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
That was quick. Good job. -- (talk) 20:06, 25 June 2011 (UTC)


By the way, you should know that in the facebook athiest / anti-creationist crowd, RW's page on DK is often linked to. see, your stuff is actually seen "out there".--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 02:18, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Skepticism warranted[edit]

I really wish this page were more skeptical of DK's work, or that it at least included a 'criticisms section.' DK's results haven't always held up when the difficulty of the test has been varied, for instance, or in regards to other cultures. I don't doubt that there are some people who face difficulty because of a false belief in their own ability. But at best, DK's work has been insanely over-applied. In a more general sense, replying to an argument or person with an ad hominem attack instead of addressing the particulars of the argument is fallacious. In this regard, the DK effect is often used as an excuse for a lack of rigor in disagreements. Also, I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin and yes, she does come across as a bit of a dull blade in some regards. But she got elected and held high approval ratings, which is the self interested goal of a politician. Kerry and Gore were both D students in school as well, but from wealthier families and with better connections/support. That they aren't included with her on this page suggests a measure of bias in its authorship.

I'd included this page under locally relevant examples of the DK effect. It was reverted immediately, but its inclusion applies just as much as the other examples.--Wiserd (talk) 15:46, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Having read the page I feel it should be retitled the "Teenage knowledge effect".--Weirdstuff (talk) 15:14, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree in more need for skepticism about the "Dunning-Kruger Effect." I advise reading two recent papers in Numeracy. They explain the innumeracy that has been employed for two decades to foster beliefs in the "Dunning-Kruger Effect." See <> . and <>.— Unsigned, by: Browndog / talk / contribs

Political Bias in page[edit]

It unfortunate that the author adds a left oriented political bias when choosing examples of overconfidence. Such is not a trait of just conservatives... but of all politicians. Please keep political bias neutral when there is no value to the page. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 20:30 (UTC) 21 October 2013‎

We never claimed to be neutral and it's not our fault that it's more common among the political right due to anti-intellectualism. However if you do enough research I'm sure you can find plenty of members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation or similar far-left reactionaries doing the same thing, so feel free to add such examples as opposed to just whining on the talk page. ClothCoat (talk) 01:26, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, how about Al Franken as an example of over-confidence? He seems to think his BA degree in "government" (one step above basket weaving, and arguably less valuable to society) qualifies him as an expert on overconfidence. And why do you say that overconfidence is more common on the political right? If this is a rational wiki, you should have some factual basis for making this statement. TwoGunChuck (talk) 02:39, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
LMAO. This website is an example of leftist Dunning-Kruger in action. How ironic. (talk) 02:59, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
And besides the Al Franken dufus, how about his fellow dufus Bill Maher? -- I'll add Bill Maher and Al Franken to the page. TwoGunChuck (talk) 06:26, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

"impostor syndrome — found notably in graduate students and high-achieving women" amused because this was obviously intended to be biased but could be interpreted both ways (talk) 13:32, 14 August 2015 (UTC)


Moved from the article page 14:56, 11 February 2014 (UTC):

A popular misconception of the effect states that incompetent individuals believe that they are more capable than experts. This misconception is in fact directly contrary to their results, which found a nearly linear correlation between actual and perceived ranking. Poor performers mistakenly believe themselves to be slightly above average; top performers mistakenly believe themselves to be near but not at the top. [1] As such, the effect doesn't model incompetents who believe themselves to stand head and shoulders above the real experts.

It is easy enough to assume that was added in good faith, but the reference to a blog set my antennae a-quivering. While incompetents may not believe themselves head and shoulders above the real experts, Dunning and Kruger did in fact propose that incompetents fail to recognize genuine skill in others. Coupled with the failure to recognize their own incompetence, it isn't any stretch to say that they tend to think they are as good as the genuinely skilled, or maybe a bit better. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:56, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

The Lenski affair would suggest exactly that, indeed. Though whether that would be reflected statistically is a different matter - remembering that D-K were looking at empirical data over a population and not specific anecdotes. It's clear from the graph that the bottom quartile, on average, still predict their ability to be below that of the top quartile. I'm not sure it's a "misconception", though. I don't recall anyone applying the D-K effect that way. Scarlet A.pngmoral 17:24, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I doubt that people in the lower quartile are thinking in terms of that graph, though. The relevant comparison is between how good the unskilled think they themselves are, vs. how good the unskilled think folks in the uppermost quartile are, again with the failure to recognize genuine skill. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:58, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


  1. Tal Yarkoni, "What the Dunning-Kruger Effect Is and Isn't".

Donald Trump[edit]

To what extent does he display this syndrome? (talk) 13:18, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Shooting from the hip, I'd rank him "above average". Reverend Black Percy (talk) 14:06, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Hi. An appeal[edit]

[Adapting this from a user talk page.]

Hi. My account was recently suspended for reverting edits on this page (in reality, I was repeatedly adding edits, not reverting them, but that's just semantics). I would like to request that my addition be considered as a legitimate edit, rather than a troll, as it seems to be perceived. The addition was the following:

"Typically the people who wield the term as an ad hominem attack are the ones to whom it applies most accurately."

I am not sure if you have experience with this attack. But it is truly typical that, when a person throws Dunning-Kruger into a debate to shut down the opposition, they are doing so because they lack a substantive argument. In other words, when a person verbally attacks another by exclaiming "Dunning-Kruger! You don't know how stupid you are!", the reality is that the term best applies to the attacker themselves.

I understand how my handle JustOwnedYouSon probably colored my edits to appear as a trolling attempt. Indeed it is true that I made the edits during an online debate. Nonetheless, I stand by the assertion that I added, and would like it to be considered as a genuine addition to the RationalWiki page Dunning-Kruger effect; after all, RationalWiki is supposed to include a more nuanced and candid analysis of a topic (and especially how the topic typically applies in a rational argument) than generic encyclopedias like Wikipedia.

Thank you for hearing me out.

[Furthermore, when mentioned that I would need a citation:]

Fair enough. The issue is that the attack typically comes up in the midst of a debate, where you would need the entire context in order to see how it is merely being used to deflect from a lack of substantive points. I do believe it to be verifiable, but I don't want to take up a large portion of the Dunning-Kruger effect page by adding a long quote that establishes context. Do you have any further suggestions? Thank you.

[When challenged on the veracity of this addition:]

Typically in a genuine ideological debate, when someone chooses to attack the opponent's character as means of disengaging from the debate, it is because they lack the intellectual capacity to offer a meaningful response. If this were Wikipedia I would understand if you indicated that this is conjecture, but this is RationalWiki, which I am sure you would agree involves a more nuanced take that includes implications that are not typically discussed in more formal encyclopedias. That being the case, would you agree with the addition in question if I was to offer a citation along with it? JustOwnedYouSon (talk) 15:33, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

Open to further input, thanks. JustOwnedYouSon (talk) 17:35, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

The statement you want to include in the article may well be true. It is certainly a strongly held opinion of yours. It must be true some of the time. But what if it is only true about 50% of the time? And why does a claim about the frequency that a concept is wrongly employed belong in an article about it? Also, if a person refers to Dunning-Kruger as a way to imply the person with whom they are arguing is unintelligent, they may be using it purely as an insult. If someone calls me a moron, I am no more likely to be persuaded by their arguments. But I cannot conclude I am talking to a moron, only that I have been insulted. Being rude doesn't mean one is stupid. Ariel31459 (talk) 20:49, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

Dunning-Kruger and the Peter Principle[edit]

How do the D-K effect and the Peter Principle interact? Anna Livia (talk) 19:34, 2 February 2018 (UTC)

I would guess that after the Peter Principle has passed any further belief in promotion could be a sign of Dunning-Kruger. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 19:56, 2 February 2018 (UTC)

'I know enough about...'[edit]

Surely this can be a neutral statement describing 'the known unknowns' (and knowing that there will be associated unknown unknowns) - you know the point at which to call in 'the experts'/get further training/accept a plain narrative explanation on, etc. Anna Livia (talk) 15:31, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

johnny ball[edit]

it strikes me as terribly unfair to single out johnny ball for this article. despite the scare quotes johnny ball has been a very prominent and popular science advocate, yet it is he that we have chosen to illustrate this effect. could we not have come up with some one more fitting? really? AMassiveGay (talk) 19:27, 12 December 2019 (UTC)

Evolutionary layer, sort of?[edit]

Was reading some stories about incompetent managers, thought of a different angle: an incompetent person must radiate confidence, because it is easy confused with brilliance, to bullshit their way into a good position. From then on the only competence required from them is to ascertain when it is time to hightail, while everything they've at said position falls apart. Perhaps, there's even a confirmation bias, and we don't get an input from both incompetent and uncofident because they simply lay low? Haven't encountered a research on this topic, but maybe someone else has?Arisano (talk) 04:33, 27 February 2021 (UTC)

I don't actually think that all incompetent managers radiate confidence. Some of them just radiate incompetence. Perhaps The Peter Principle or something similar? Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 16:00, 1 March 2021 (UTC)