No Clue, Studies Find
They're blind to own failings, others' skills

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

"I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn't know it," Dunning said.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

more at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2000/01/18/MN73840.DTL