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Why smart people doubt themselves and the ill-informed think they know more than they really do

A viral video on YouTube by author Mark Manson (“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k”) explains a fundamental aspect of psychology that significantly affects how we view ourselves and others.

The concept is a cognitive bias known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that people who know a lot about something tend to underestimate their expertise on a subject, whereas those who know little about a subject think they know much more than they actually do.

Manson puts it simply in the video: “The idiot thinks he knows everything because he literally doesn’t have enough knowledge to know better. Meanwhile, the expert thinks he knows nothing because he is so aware of all the ways in which he may be wrong.”

Warning: This video contains strong language.

The fact that those who aren’t experts can be more confident in their opinions than those who know what they’re talking about can cause a whole host of problems. It encourages people with ill-informed ideas and prevents those with real solutions to life’s issues from speaking up.

It’s also a chilling reminder that it can be challenging to change others’ minds because they don’t know what they don’t know. The solution? Manson says that knowing about our cognitive bias is a reminder to be less egotistical about our beliefs because we’re wired to unintentionally fool ourselves.

“Any sense of false certainty is really just gonna cause more pain than necessary,” Manson says. “I think that the Dunning-Kruger effect teaches us to be more humble.”