(#393) Incompetent People Who Believe They Are Exceptional

They not only lack the ability to see superior talent and skills in others,
they possess a blatant inability to recognize their own ineptitude and shortcomings.

You know the type. Perhaps you work with one, or two, or more. You may even catch them on the evening news or featured in one of your streaming news alerts. Or the driver in the next lane.

Or maybe it is the average to below-average colleague, politician, celebrity, or latest conspiracy advocate who cannot believe anyone would evaluate her as anything less than excellent.  The person who lacks competence but believes he far excels beyond all others on the team—all evidence to the contrary ignored.


In 1999, two psychologists identified the Dunning-Kruger Effect: People with low ability suffer from an “illusory superiority” when they compare themselves to others. They not only lack the ability to see superior talent and skills in others, they possess a blatant inability to recognize their own ineptitude and shortcomings.

The paper introducing the findings was aptly titled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It.”

Hmm.  Anybody (bodies) come to mind?  Think of the news.  Think of your local community. How about your team?  Yourself?

In my mind’s eye, I see two people at the local gym as examples.  Neither of them says much kind about anyone or anything; and both always have to talk in broad generalities and obscenities about others. Everyone, in their view, knows much less than they do.  These non-stop talkers suffer from what I call “I-cannot-NOT-talk” syndrome.  Maybe you know some of these pontificating blowhards who speak as if all they spout represents mana from the gods.

For years my colleagues and I taught students strategies required of information literate citizens.  One of those steps demands that we carefully and critically evaluate the sources of information. Understanding concepts like confirmation bias is a must.  We did this long before the term “fake news” became a popular euphemism.

Your task this week requires that you be vigilant for any “Dunning-Krugerites” (my phraseology—not the psychologists’) who cross your path, come on one of your screens, cut you off in traffic, or cannot believe well-founded/supported criticism of themselves or their views.

Do you want to depend on these people? Would you invest your life savings with them? Depend on them for a medical diagnosis? Follow them blindly down an oblivious path to heaven knows where?

Tread carefully, my friend.

Video recommendation for the week:

This video provides a visual overview.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in accountability, assumptions, awareness, Critical Thinking, curiosity, decision making, Discipline, Dunning-Kruger Effect, Education, information literacy, Mindfulness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to (#393) Incompetent People Who Believe They Are Exceptional

  1. Pingback: (#397) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2017 in Review | The Growth and Resilience Network®

  2. Pingback: (Issue #557) Agree to Disagree: A Conversational Fire Extinguisher? | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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