Experts Everywhere! The Dunning-Kruger effect is on full display

This topic has come up more than once with Dinner Table Doctor during the pandemic. Most recently we were having a simple alfresco snack of bread and cheese and wine with friends (recipe for a yummy cheese appetizer follows 😊). We were talking about Facebook and laughing at ourselves and others since we have all become vocal “experts” on social media. DTD explained how this is the perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the result of a series of studies completed by psychologists Dunning and Kruger from Cornell University. They measured participants’ logic, grammar, and sense of humor and found that those who scored the worst in these areas also rated their own skills far above average. “Those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,” they wrote. In other words, you think you know and you purport to know a lot more than you actually know.

Are you thinking of a friend or family member who acts like an expert on a particular topic, even when it’s obvious he/she is not? Maybe you’re thinking of a public figure? The Dunning-Kruger effect explains how so much false information is spreading on the internet. This can be extremely dangerous, because an overconfident, yet ignorant person can be very persuasive and lead others astray.

We have all seen (and perhaps are guilty of) the spread of Covid information online which contradicts experts who have studied infectious disease their entire lives and made a career out of interpreting this data. Some people think reading several articles or watching some YouTube videos, shared mostly by people who have similar opinions, makes them more informed than trained professionals. Also, some people who may be an expert in one field, mistakenly think that makes them an expert in other fields as well.

How do we avoid falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect? “Psychology Today” gives some useful tips. Don’t blindly accept or share information without researching it thoroughly from a variety of sources. Be your own devil’s advocate by questioning your own abilities and how you might possibly be wrong about something. If there’s an area in your life where you feel one hundred percent confident, take a step back and examine how you can learn more information. Seek and be open to constructive criticism.

Most importantly, be aware of your tone, especially on Facebook. If you’re starting to sound like a super confident know-it-all, examine your objectives. Try to be open to other peoples’ opinions and kinder when presenting your own. For more information on the Dunning-Kruger effect, check out the following link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/dunning-kruger-effect

When you have friends over for drinks, serve this appetizer to impress and satisfy:

Tomato Confit Over Burrata Cheese

In a lasagna dish, combine about 3 pints of cherry tomatoes with about 3/4 Cup of extra virgin olive oil and about 1T salt, and 4-6 cloves of roughly chopped garlic. Mix it all well. The tomatoes are whole/uncut. You could also add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme. Roast this in the oven at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or longer- until you see most of the tomatoes popping. You could mix this with pasta for a delicious meal, but for our cheese appetizer do this:

Put two balls of burrata cheese on a serving plate with sides and pour the tomato confit all around them. Burrata cheese is like mozzarella, only it has a rich, soft and creamy center. Serve with slices of a baguette and let folks scoop up the tomato cheese mixture and slather it on the bread for a delicious treat! A nice bottle of dry Lambrusco goes perfectly on a warmer night. On a cold night, a Primitivo or Sangiovese pairs well. While you’re eating and drinking, you can laugh about all the people you know who are victims of the Dunning-Kruger effect!

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