The Dunning-Kruger Effect

You Don’t Know What you Don’t Know

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. Essentially, it states that beginners (people with very little capability or knowledge on a subject) are often grossly overconfident and that the cause of their overconfidence is their lack of knowledge or experience. The concept is often simplified with the phrase ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.

Dunning-Kruger Effect Chart

It explains the relationship between confidence and competence as a process. Initially, ignorance 

While the ‘Peak of Mt Stupid’ label makes for a more entertaining graphic, being there doesn’t make you a stupid person. In fact, all of us move through the curve in the various things we undertake. What does make you stupid (or foolish)… 

So, what does the ‘peak of Mt/ Stupid’ look like? How about “I shot a 90% on my qual, so I don’t need any range time.” Or “I don’t need training, I’ve been shooting since I was 9.” Doing well on a qualification and experience handling guns can both be good, helpful things… but neither is an indicator that you’ve mastered the art of defensive shooting. To think that they are places you solidly on (or shy of) the peak.

Systemic in our ‘industry’- which means that our overestimation is frequently validated by sources that should be reliable (i.e. gun magazines, instructors, YouTube stars, etc).  We are fooled into believing that many others who sit atop the Peak of Mt Stupid are actually enlightened experts- they talk with conviction and look cool on Instagram, after all. 

The antidote is to 1) understand what appropriate skill looks like within the context of our objective (i.e. defend ourself against a violent attack); 2) identify or establish standards (based on that understanding) that accurately measure our mastery of those (appropriate) skills; and 3) measure ourselves against those standards.

Copyright 2022 Telluric Training, LLC. Article and/ or images may not be copied or reposted without specific written approval… but we will typically allow it with proper attribution. Contact us to ask.   

About the Author

Brian Garrett

Managing Partner, Telluric Companies

Brian has been the Managing Partner at Telluric since it was founded in 2004. 


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