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Friday, September 6, 2019

The Dunning–Kruger effect in Philosophical Movements

Proposed in 1999 by the two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. According to the researchers, the incompetent people are not only poor performers, they are also incapable of analyzing and judging the quality of the work that they are doing. The ignorant people are more likely to be overconfident than the people with real knowledge. In an article, “We are all confident idiots,” (Pacific Standard, Oct 27, 2014), David Dunning writes, “What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.” 

The studies of the Dunning–Kruger effect are focused primarily on the individuals, but, I think, it can also be used to analyze the philosophical movements.

According to Dunning and Kruger, a person needs skill and knowledge to judge how skilled and knowledgeable he is, but the philosophical movements that I am talking about do not possess the skill and knowledge to judge the claims that they are making about their own philosophy. The followers of these movements have little knowledge of philosophy, and their ignorance leads them to assume that they are genuine experts. They are irrationally exuberant and they are convinced they are always moral and right—they are incapable of identifying the flaws in their philosophy. When people join a philosophical movement, they are psyched into believing that what the movement’s leaders are preaching is the only right way and they lose the capacity to use their mind.

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