Be a Fool

Know any people that are completely unskilled, yet remain entirely unaware of it?  We all have deficit areas where we speak of or demonstrate our lack of truthful insight, intelligence and skill levels.

In 1999, two Psychologists with Cornell University (David Dunning and Justin Kruger), completed a research study on just this theory.  What they confirmed was what is now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  By definition, this effect is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are not able to recognize their own incompetence.  Simply put, they are unskilled and completely unaware of it.

In this research experiment, they also learned:

  • Those that do well, underestimate  (humble and open to learning more)
  • Those that don’t do well, overestimate (arrogant, not open to learning)

The study shared that metacognition is at the center of this issue.  Metacognition is cognition about cognition (thinking about thinking).

At the highest form of metacognition, you are acutely aware of awareness itself where new information works to evolve your thinking and skill level.  With low levels of metacognition, people cannot analyze their own thought processes to recognize a lack of knowledge.  But they persist with ego that they already know everything.

We are best advised to continue learning, with great humility, to develop our metacognition capacity for thinking about our thinking and to remain aware of our level of awareness.

Two candid quotes to enhance your application of this research moving forward:

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”  — Shakespeare  —

“When you are dead, you do not know that you are dead.  It is difficult only for others.  It is the same when you are stupid.”   — Phillipe Geluck — 


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