Palin, Teabaggers and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Wickersham's Conscience

The first of the original Dunning-Kruger experiments involved a group of undergraduate students who were asked – just as they walked out of a final exam – to rate their performance for the class just completed. In particular, they were asked how well they had mastered the course material, and what they predicted their raw score would be on the test they had just taken.

After comparing the student’s own impressions with their actual performance, a clear pattern emerged in Dunning and Kruger’s data: the worst students grossly overestimated their own performance, while the top students somewhat underestimated theirs. You can get a clear sense of the extremity of the poor students’ tendency to overestimate their own performance when you consider these results: in the bottom quartile, while their actual performance may have

put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated their mastery of the course material to fall in…

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