Were Dunning & Kruger Competent for theorizing their DK effect?

Dunning Kruger effect, which theorizes that incompetent people tend to think that they are more competent, itself seems to be an example of a bad confidence of knowing more. Following is written in wikipedia article on Dunning Kruger effect:

The study was inspired by the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras.

Particularly, please pay attention to this line:

… after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink …

Here we see that Dunning and Kruger have shown their own incompetency by formulating a shallow theory about this form of ignorance. They did not even bother to confirm whether this form of ignorance was already studied or not.

Now please refer to Sir James Frazer’s famous book “The Golden Bough”.

Following is PDF book link of “The Golden Bough”. (Note: Sir James Frazer is regarded as Father of Cultural Anthropology)


Please see page 19 (PDF page) of this book.

The name of this type of ignorance and confidence is Sympathetic Magic or Similarity based magic. This book is full of similar examples.

Now if Dunning and Kruger were really competent, they should have found that same type of ignorance already had been studied and they should have formulated new theory only if they disagreed with the previous one. But formulation of new theory without bothering to see if it was already theorized or not is a sign of incompetence.

Secondly when they were analyzing a type of ignorance which is part of basic psychology of humans, then why they failed to derive correct theory which a real competent theorist already had derived?

Their failure to derive correct theory indicates that basically they were not competent enough to reach at the correct theory. They only could formulate a shallow theory which they did.

Now let us look what is there in the original DK paper. At first they misquote the irrelevant example of that criminal who robbed bank after rubbing lemon juice on his face.

Throughout the paper Dunning and Kruger failed to realize that lemon juice case was actually related to the sympathetic magic, a phenomenon that exists and prevails everywhere.

They are likely to remain ignorant until they read this blog post or other stuff that I will write.

The paper starts from this understanding error which clearly tells the actual level of their own abilities.

The study is based on childish tests which are like IQ tests.

IQ tests or similar tests have no actual worth in valuing the actual competency level of an individual. Richard Faynman is a reported case of not having very high IQ yet he was one of the towering intellectuals of the 20th century.

In the same way as they wrongfully assessed the case of bank robber … they must have done lot of this types of mistakes under their every case study.

Dunning and Kruger themselves have concluded their paper with following paragraph:

Although we feel we have done a competent job in making a strong case for this analysis, studying it empirically, and drawing out relevant implications, our thesis leaves us with one haunting worry that we cannot vanquish. That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication. Let us assure our readers that to the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly.

Mr. Dunning and Mr. Krugger ….

We know you have not committed sin knowingly. You simply did not know.

Your method was erroneous … yes.

Your logic was faulty … yes.

You did not do it knowingly … yes.

Because you were not competent for this task.

You misread the case of that robber … You also must have misread 95% other individuals. Your method could not find any reality about cognition or how does it work.

Now your works are being used by other incompetent people with the view to stop competent people from doing their work.

Due to my blog posts, people are now understanding that Dunning and Kruger themselves were incompetent for their paper. One person pointed out that if DK were incompetent then DK effect must have a reality.

To that I replied that yes there is a real DK effect that cannot be denied. It is a false confidence that all the knowledge is contained only in the peer-reviewed journals. It is like a long nose condition where the victim can see only his own nose area (peer reviewed regime).

DK were suffering with this real and usual DK effect. They could only see their own nose area (peer-reviewed records). That’s why they failed to see that the theory was already well developed and the problem was already well-studied by Sir James Frazer. But they could not see that because it existed outside of the peer reviewed regime and thus outside of the radar of their nose. NOSE … to which they were limited.

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