The Psychological Effect Creating “Confidently Ignorant” Voters

Robb SmithOn Your Radar, Perspectives, Worldviews 1 Comment

It is possible, perhaps even likely, that the level of vitriol we’ve seen in the 2016 election cycle will repeat for many years ahead. The culprit is a well-studied psychological phenomena called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which basically shows that many people often overestimate their degree of knowledge about the world, leading them to false conclusions that are then in turn impervious to further information and logic. In politics it’s a form of epistemic closure, and it is central to understanding the rise of populists like Trump. Politicians can take advantage when voters are confident in their limited knowledge, opening the door for a “aperspectival madness” and a post-truth media landscape. Especially in a time when every voter can select their information sources with confirmation bias, there is no obvious countervailing force that will push back on the Dunning-Kruger Effect becoming more prevalent.

On Your Radar:

Expect more polarization in coming years due to the Dunning-Kruger effect and the ongoing fragmentation of the average citizen’s media diet.


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    It seems to me that the conclusion that the Dunning-Kruger effect is being taken advantage of by politicians is a very “partial truth.” The media and politicians are being pushed by big money –propaganda is being skillfully used to divide the electorate and to allow more and more wealth to accumulate into the hands of the rich and powerful. Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer, the Koch brothers, the coal and oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the big banks–in order for them to get what they want, the public must be kept divided and confused.

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