Steve Fenton

The Dunning-Kruger Snap

This is a short post, which assumes you are already familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Simply put, the Dunning-Kruger Snap is a double realisation; part direct and part meta.

The first part of the realisation is driven by tipping your knowledge past a precipice that triggers an epiphany of how little you know. It’s when you tilt suddenly from confidence into imposter syndrome. This isn’t always a sudden transition, but it’s only a Dunning-Kruger Snap when it’s jarringly swift.

The second part of The Snap is a more philosophical one. This is the realisation that the Dunning-Kruger Effect applies to you, not just other people. This relates to a common human problem; illusory superiority. This is most beautiful illustrated by Ola Svenson’s study, “Are We All Less Risky and More Skillful than our Fellow Drivers?”.

The study found (perhaps unsurprisingly) that ~80% of drivers believe they are safer than average, and more than 90% believe they are more skilled than average. If humans could predict their skill accurately, you would expect a normal distribution in the below chart. Instead, though, it is heavily skewed to the right-hand side.

So, the second half of the snap is realising that illusory superiority and The Dunning-Kruger Effect both apply to you. It’s the ultimate self-realisation. It will hopefully lead you to have more empathy for other people and prevent you from weaponising the concepts.

Embrace the jarring, but ultimately rewarding, experience of the Dunning-Kruger Snap. It’s all part of becoming a better human.

Written by Steve Fenton on