The Dunning-Krueger effect is not a disease, syndrome or mental illness — it is present in everybody to some extent.

The phenomenon is defined as someone who has very little knowledge in a subject and claims to know a lot. That person might even boast about being an expert.

There’s much more research activity about the effect right now and David Dunning said, “Obviously it has to do with Trump and the various treatments that people have given him. … So yeah, a lot of it is political. People trying to understand the other side. We have a massive rise in partisanship and it’s become more vicious and extreme, so people are reaching for explanations.”

In a 1999 paper, Dunning and Justin Kruger put data to what has been known by philosophers since Socrates. In 1871, Charles Darwin coined this appropriate phrase “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

The Dunning-Kruger effect says that “incompetent people think they know more than they really do and they tend to be more boastful about it.”

Even though President Trump’s statements are rife with errors, falsehoods or inaccuracies, he expresses great confidence in his aptitude. He says he does not read extensively because he solves problems “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I (already) had.”

Steven Sloman, a cognitive psychologist at Brown University said, “The fact is, that’s Trump in a nutshell. He’s a man with zero political skill who has no idea he has zero political skill. And it’s given him extreme confidence.”

Sloman thinks the Dunning-Kruger effect has become popular outside of the research world because it is a simple phenomenon that could apply to all of us. And, he said, people are desperate to understand what’s going on in the world.

“Many people cannot wrap their minds around the rise of Trump,” Sloman said. “He’s exactly the opposite of everything we value in a politician and he’s the exact opposite of what we thought Americans valued.”

If the president is as smart as he thinks he is, why can’t he halt the government shutdown he called for and why did he allow children to be separated from their families?

Researchers have reported that 79% of Trump’s claims during a rally are false, misleading or lacking evidence.

Dunning said the effect is particularly dangerous when someone with influence or the means to do harm doesn’t have anyone who can speak honestly about their mistakes. He noted several plane crashes that could have been avoided if crew (members) had spoken up to an overconfident pilot.

His follow-up research show the poorest performers are also the least likely to accept criticism or show interest in self-improvement.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is dominating the political activities in Washington, D.C. and the American people need to do whatever we can to cure this highly destructive phenomenon.

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