Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome
In 1999 a pair of researchers published a paper called "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments (PDF)." David Dunning and Justin Kruger (both at Cornell University's Department of Psychology at the time) conducted a series of four studies showing that, in certain cases, people who are very bad at something think they are actually pretty good. They showed that to assess your own expertise at something, you need to have a certain amount of expertise already. Remember the 2008 election campaign? The financial markets were going crazy, and banks that were "too big to fail" were bailed out by the government. Smug EU officials proclaimed that all was well within the EU—even while they were bailing out a number of financial institutions. In all of this, uninformed idiots blame the Greeks for being lazy, the Germans for being too strict, and everyone but themselves. This paper has become a cult classic.
Related: Irony, Postmodernism, and Our Current Age