The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect is defined by Wikipedia as a “cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average.”

The research that coined the term was carried out at Cornell University in 1999 by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, although the observation has been made before.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”

Charles Darwin

“In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”

Bertrand Russell

At each end of a sliding scale are people who have a reasonably accurate appreciation for their depth of knowledge on any given subject. People at one end who know nothing recognise and openly admit their lack of knowledge.

At the far side of the scale, people who are genuine experts in their field, typically also recognise the limits of their knowledge. Depth of knowledge as it’s name implies is as deep as you are prepared to dig, and even experts never stop learning.

Sitting left of middle of this scale, nearer the start than the end, is the individual for which the term “Dunning-Kruger effect” was coined.

The consultant, the support technician, the support forum “guru” that has seen a problem once or twice before, maybe run a migration or two, installed a piece of software more than once.

For me David McRaney said it best in his book “You Are Not So Smart” when he said “Your narrow advantage over novices leads you to think you are the shit.”

I have a narrow advantage over novices.

I’ve done some stuff once or twice before. From GroupWise or Domino migrations to Microsoft Exchange, NDS migration to AD, with or without third party software, I’ve learned some stuff along the way, and rather than just keep what little knowledge I have gleaned to myself, I’ve decided to share it.

It may help somebody. Way too often I eventually find somebody on the Internet having exactly the same issue I’m having on site, but he doesn’t come back to update his post when or if he gets the issue sorted.

Some of my recounting of experience may be technically inaccurate, or in some cases just plain wrong. If it is, just let me know, I’ll correct any mistakes, or talk through any disagreements.

My blog is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Dunning-Kruger effect, and an attempt to recognise that a little knowledge or experience can be bad if not handled correctly.

My intention for this blog is to share my experience, but not to set myself up as any kind of self appointed expert or guru.