56. Dunning-Kruger effect—overconfidence in one's professional skills
According to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which has been extensively studied, those who are less skilled in a certain area are more likely to judge that they are competent35. Dunning and Kruger proposed the following, that incompetent people will:
• tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
• fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
• fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
• recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.
Various studies have confirmed all these hypotheses. In considering global risks, which span many spheres of knowledge—from biology to astrophysics to psychology to public policy—trying to create an adequate picture of the situation, any expert will be compelled to venture outside his limits of knowledge. As it is pleasant to feel knowledgeable, people may test the boundaries of their propensity to exaggerate their own abilities. They may become overconfident and stop consulting experts about vital issues. The stereotype of a “savior of the world,” a single hero who is capable of anything without effort, may possess them. This effect may discourage other researchers from participating or even create a hole in our knowledge of global risk if that one researcher subsequently turns out to have been systematically wrong. One example which comes to mind is the Japanese composer Mamoru Samuragochi, who was known as the “Beethoven of Japan” due to his deafness and prodigal classical compositions. However, in early 2014 it was revealed that he had a ghostwriter for all his compositions and was in fact not deaf36. This caused quite a stir when many planned performances of his music were suddenly canceled.