A great irony amongst the many I see, is that the skills required to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognise what a right answer looks like.

Put another way, our incompetence in a field masks our ability to recognise our own incompetence.

This irony has been observed by many, Charles Darwin and Bertrand Russell amongst others, but was systematically investigated by two Cornell University psychologists, and has become known as the “Dunning-Kruger effect“.  The obvious corollary  is that knowing  what you do not know is usually a sign of intelligence.

Dunning and Kruger demonstrated this effect is as prevalent amongst educated people as it is amongst those with seemingly less training that may enable them to see their own weaknesses.

In today’s connected and service oriented developed world, this effect when combined with a slick presentation, and loads of self confidence can be a real trap for the unwary, just look at those sprouting financial and stock market certainties just before the GFC hit.

So, next time you hear or see someone sprouting stuff you do not understand, no matter how slick it may appear, make sure you rectify that lack of understanding before you put your hand in your wallet, alternatively, get the hell out of Dodge.