Matt on The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Social media especially convinces everyone that they are an expert in a subject immediately. It’s amazing how I follow the same people, but that group is an expert in the auto industry when there are Apple car rumors, epidemiologists when there’s a public health crisis, and a payments expert when there’s App Store rule news.

Yeah, that hits home more than a bit from Matt. We all need to do better with what we think our expertise is. Assuming that everyone is an expert is part of what has us in this divisive COVID mess.

One thing I think about regularly when I think about who is an expert is a story from The Death of Expertise. In that, a student is arguing with a lecturer about some topic. Finally, the student says something like “Well we both could be wrong we should agree to disagree”. Then the professor replies “No. I’ve studied this for decades. I’m far more likely to be right than someone 12 months into studying the topic”.

That’s not an exact quote, but you get the essence of it. We can all become more educated on topics, but if you’ve been studying it for a decade then you’re far more likely to be right than someone new to the idea.

Matt councils that we should find a few experts on a topic that we are investigating. I’d add to that, aim for opposing viewpoints so you don’t fall into confirmation bias. Don’t go for conspiracy theories, but who has the educated dissenting opinion?

We must also remember to weigh that differing opinion properly. We could have 2 climate scientists talk with one believing that climate change isn’t real and one saying it is. That hides the truth that most scientists believe climate change is real. It’d be better to have 99 people arguing climate change is real against 1 that believes it’s false.

Few book recommendations if you want to dig deeper.

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