The Dunning-Kruger Effect, or Why Smart People Don’t Voice

549 words // 10 min. read


This post is dedicated to all of the people out there who are too “shy” to voice for themselves (either socially or publicly) and who are tortured by this fact because they know they have something special to share with the world.

It’s also dedicated to the sensitive people who push past these fears and use their voice anyway.

I remember finding out about the psychological concept of the Dunning-Kruger effect and having a major epiphany about why our society is the way it is. This one idea sheds a big light on the reason why we have so many smart people who tend to save their opinions for their close friends or their journals, instead of taking a stand publicly when they are perhaps most needed.

Put simply, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a subtle bias in our society, wherein smart people don’t step up to the proverbial mic because they are smart and self-aware enough to know that there are other people out there who are more qualified to speak on the topic, and thus they defer the podium to these “other smarter people.” This is noble and everything but the problem is that MOST of the smart people end up withholding their influence on society, and the result is that we have a lot of very unaware and under-qualified people voicing instead.

So basically, we have smart people deferring to other smart people who are also deferring, and you have a large (important) subset of the population who doesn’t voice out of self-awareness. And then we all have issues with our “leaders.”

There’s a corollary effect also, where an incompetent person can’t recognize their own incompetence because they are…. incompetent… which is why you see a lot of inflated ego-based people at the podium, people who literally cannot see their true place in society – which is not a place of greatness, but in fact a place of trumped up self-importance.

As Bertrand Russell put it, “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

I see this one idea as a huge reason why the smart and sensitive people out there have a sacred duty to use their voice to influence conversations as they come up. Whether that be in person when you have a chance to redirect an ignorant discussion or online where you can influence hundreds of people in your network with a single comment or post is beside the point. You have a voice and it’s connected to a clear conscience and a pure heart. This alone makes it necessary that you speak up, as so many who use their voice are driven by ignorance instead…

We live in dire times. Many people are going to lose hope and hide from the uncertainty and keep discussions “comfortable” out of fear. But if we have strong, loving, sensitive people out there pushing past their comfort zones and taking stands about important issues, even at the risk of making people uncomfortable, then we just might get somewhere now won’t we!

Use your voice. Make it loud. Speak from the depths of the wellspring in your heart. The collective consciousness is waiting patiently for you to emerge.

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