Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NSE and the Dunning Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a phenomenon whereby the unskilled don't know enough to know that they are idiots and bad decisions ensue.

I can't remember where I was going with that but for some reason I thought of NSE when I learned today about the theory (though I had been aware of the actual effect for some years). The following is quoted from Wikipedia:
Kruger and Dunning noted ... that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.
Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

As we paddle and trip, we all hopefully move from ignorance to enlightenment. We learn that there is much we don't know, and as the skill level improves, so does the decision making. Unfortunately we have to make a few dumb mistakes before it hits home that we need to learn to do things better. Northstar Expeditions has avoided too many dumb mistakes as a group, and we have twice now taken lessons as a group to improve our skillset. I'm sure there will be dumb mistakes in the future and hopefully we are sufficiently enlightened to recognise and learn from them.