Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Circle of Dysfunction

From Wikipedia comes this summary of the Dunning–Kruger Effect:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it." The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

The Dunning-Kruger effect can be seen all around us all the time.

For example, look at the folks running for Congress. 

Most of the time, it's the ego-besotted and barely-competent who put their name out for that job. 

The folks who actually understand the intricacies of energy policy, foreign policy, and economics, are pretty sure they are not the right sort for public office -- or they have better jobs to start with.  

Of course, the Dunning-Kruger effect is also at work in the world of dogs.

Look at most of the breed clubs, for example.

In the world of Border Collies, you can find instant-experts breeding dogs left and right, and never mind that their own animals have yet to even see a sheep!  No problem there, they will tell you.  

Then, you have the retriever experts who do not hunt, and whose own dogs will not return a tennis ball, much less a bird.    They have strong opinions on the proper color, however!

And then, of course, you have the Border Terrier and "Parson" Russell Terrier breeders who do not own a locator collar, and have never sunk a hole. But do they have puppies to sell? Yes they do!

Of course, it does not stop with the breeders and the dog dealers, does it?

There are the instant experts on electronic training collars who have never owed one, used one, or even seen a dog being trained with one.

There are the instant experts who decry chain slip collars, and who do not even know how to put one on.

And then, of course, there are the 23-year old  experts.  Here's a hint:  If you are 23 years old, you are probably not a real expert in anything.

But of course, there is no stopping folks.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect means the least competent and least experienced are often the most certain they are right, and that they are also quite certain they doing a better-than-average job at most of the tasks they are doing.

What's that mean for dogs?

Well, for one, it means the least competent breeders are often the ones who are most certain they are quite excellent.

On the reverse, the most competent and most knowledgeable dog men and dog women are often filled with self-doubt to the point they may go a lifetime without breeding a litter.

And so it goes, round and round, in an almost never-ending circle of dysfunction. 

Is it any wonder we are in the mess we are in?



HurricaneDeck said...

LOVE this! Thanks for sharing it. Who knew that constant doubt could be an asset?

seeker said...

This agrees with the old saying that one should hire a teenager while he still knows everything.

Debi and the TX JRTs

Simba said...

Just to nitpick- there are 23 year olds who are experts. I have come across a few young computer experts, and a teenage expert on the history of certain of the crusades. They had exceptional drive and an obsession with their subjects, though.

Seahorse said...

I'm doomed. I appear to be a combination of both sides of the syndrome. Yippee.


aficat said...

Hey now!

I'm 24 next week.

Diane Gallagher said...

Oh, Simba -- it can happen in teh learned arts. Obsession can be useful.

But in the world of real time experience, such as (but not limited to. . .) dog training??

Taint likely. IME, anywayz.

Simba said...

I know, that's why I specified those subjects. It was in response to: "If you are 23 years old, you are probably not a real expert in anything. "