The Dunning-Kruger effect and the climate debate

One of the best titles for a scientific paper has to be the Nobel Prize winning "Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments". The paper compares people's skill levels to their own assessment of their abilities. In hindsight, the result seems self-evident. Unskilled people lack the skill to rate their own level of competence. This leads to the unfortunate result that unskilled people rate themselves higher than more competent people. The phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after the paper's authors, and is often seen in the climate debate. There are many with a cursory understanding of the subject who believe they have discovered fundamental flaws in climate science that have somehow been overlooked or ignored.

See this website for a good explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect: http://www.skepticalscience.com

A good current example of this effect would be Sarah Palin.  See:

 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6950967.ece

Or put more simply the old saying: A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

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