Dilbert - Confidence

One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” – Bertrand Russell

A classic cause of poor decisions, is ‘Second Order Ignorance’ (my term). It’s not just ‘not knowing’…it’s ‘not knowing that you’re not knowing’. In the classic matrix of ‘Competency’ and ‘Consciousness’, it’s the ultimate failure of the ‘Unconscious Incompetent’ (you’re crap and you don’t even know it). And it even has its own clinical name – the Dunning-Kruger Effect

“The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, ‘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 effect is about paradoxical defects in cognitive ability, both in oneself and as one compares oneself to others.”

Embracing failure plots escape from this syndrome by constantly exploring and embracing one’s own incompetences as well as one’s ignorance of them. Failure of ability and failure of awareness.

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