The Circle of Knowledge (Dunning-Kruger Effect)

Or to put it another way… Why do the most ignorant people think they are so smart?

A couple of smart social psychologists came up with the answer, but my grandaddy explained it to me in much simpler terms decades before (he was a pretty smart guy, too). Here’s what they said:

David Dunning and Justin Kruger, found that the cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability.

So in plain English, the dumber and more ignorant a person is, the more likely they will think they know everything there is to know. Psychologists call this a cognitive bias. We see that all the time, especially these days.

My grandaddy put it a simpler way when explaining to me why teenagers (I was one at the time) think they know it all and can handle anything. He called it the circle of knowledge. Everything you know falls inside that circle and everything you don’t know falls outside it. The outer edges of the circle of what you know touches on what you don’t and gives you a glimpse of how much more there is to know. When you’re ignorant your circle of knowledge is small so the outer edges of that circle touch on very little, giving you the impression you know a lot more than you really do. The smarter you get, the bigger the circle grows and the more you realize how much more there is to know.

You know?

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