A colleague and friend (thanks Leon) has introduced me to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-kruger effect (which is a scientific elaboration on a famous quote by Charles Darwin that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”) simply states that ignorance results fairly frequently with over confidence and self certainty, even in the face of evidence and body of knowledge suggesting otherwise.

In David Dunning’s own words:

There have been many psychological studies that tell us what we see and what we hear is shaped by our preferences, our wishes, our fears, our desires and so forth.  We literally see the world the way we want to see it.  But the Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that there is a problem beyond that.  Even if you are just the most honest, impartial person that you could be, you would still have a problem — namely, when your knowledge or expertise is imperfect, you really don’t know it.  Left to your own devices, you just don’t know it. We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know.”

The first thing that came to my mind when investigating this phenomena were some previous discussions I’ve been party to with regard to the issue of projects’ failure rate and the various studies / publications attempting to persuade us that a large portion of IT projects end up in utter failure.

Are we witnessing a live example of the Dunning Kruger Effect, where people without the proper scientific or methodological experience make use of unsubstantiated data to prove a point they’ve already had in their mind but were simply looking for a ‘study’ to confirm the point they’ve already formed?

Think about it!

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