John Cleese on How “Stupid People Have No Idea How Stupid They Are” (Otherwise Known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect)

Mon­ty Python icon John Cleese had this to say about Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene yes­ter­day: “She is the per­fect exam­ple of some­one who is not intel­li­gent enough to realise that she’s not very intel­li­gent. Hence her enor­mous self-con­fi­dence. Sad­ly, her sup­port­ers are even less intel­li­gent than she is. Hence their con­fi­dence in her.” It turns out that, as Cleese fur­ther explains in the video above, there’s a sci­en­tif­ic term for MTG’s con­di­tion–the Dunning–Kruger effect, “a cog­ni­tive bias where­in unskilled indi­vid­u­als suf­fer from illu­so­ry supe­ri­or­i­ty, mis­tak­en­ly rat­ing their abil­i­ty much high­er than is accu­rate” owing to “a metacog­ni­tive inabil­i­ty of the unskilled to rec­og­nize their inep­ti­tude” (and, by the same token, of “high­ly skilled indi­vid­u­als to under­es­ti­mate their rel­a­tive com­pe­tence, erro­neous­ly assum­ing that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for oth­ers”). This con­di­tion gets its name from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty researchers Justin Kruger and David Dun­ning, the lat­ter of whom Cleese–who has spent time at Cor­nell as a long-term vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor–counts as a friend. You can learn more about the Dunning–Kruger effect here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Why Incom­pe­tent Peo­ple Think They’re Amaz­ing: An Ani­mat­ed Les­son from David Dun­ning (of the Famous “Dun­ning-Kruger Effect”)

24 Com­mon Cog­ni­tive Bias­es: A Visu­al List of the Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sys­tems Errors That Keep Us From Think­ing Ratio­nal­ly

John Cleese Revis­its His 20 Years as an Ivy League Pro­fes­sor in His New Book, Pro­fes­sor at Large: The Cor­nell Years

Free Online Psy­chol­o­gy & Neu­ro­science Cours­es

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Comments (7)
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  • Douglas John Okkerse says:

    This real­i­ty dates back gen­er­a­tions with the start of Unit­ed States Pres­i­dents. It is the blind lead­ing the blind and lambs of the world. Dic­ta­tor Putin does this now.

  • George says:

    It’s not a mat­ter of the blind lead­ing the blind it’s a mat­ter of stu­pid peo­ple in large num­bers that cre­ates the bull­shit! Our found­ing fathers were very young when they decid­ed enough is enough and took a stand against the largest mil­i­tary in the world at that time and is in no way a com­par­i­son to what Putin’s dumb ass is doing! There­fore sir you are an ass­hole fuck­tart to the high­est degree for hav­ing touched the keys that typed your fuck­tart­ed­ness think­ing shit for brains! Good day you FUCKING fuck­tart­ed dip shit!

  • Paul says:

    @George, did he touch a raw nerve? Or did the com­ment res­onate per­son­al­ly?

  • Lotus says:

    My good­ness such lan­guage 💋

  • J Thomas says:

    As always, Mr. Cleese is con­cise, eru­dite, and spot on.

  • Robert says:

    Reminds me of a say­ing I heard some­where:

    “The thing about dying is that you don’t suf­fer, because you don’t know you’re dead. The peo­ple around you are the ones that suf­fer.

    The same goes for being stu­pid.”

  • Tommy says:

    Using a polit­i­cal fig­ure to try to make your argu­ment
    con­vinc­ing is stu­pid. You could insert anyone’s name
    and essen­tial­ly find the cor­rect tar­get audi­ence
    and sound con­vinc­ing.
    Nice try though.

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