Dunning-Kruger Effect

People who hold this illusionary superiority are very hard to teach

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Reference: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Explore: Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It’s where someone of low competence believes they know more than they really do.

Like when someone goes into an exam and, although they perform poorly, they haven’t picked up on how little they knew and so they believe they’ve done much better than they really have. Someone with higher intelligence sitting the exam would pick up how much they still needed to know and may actually think they performed lower than they have.

People who hold this illusionary superiority are very hard to teach as they already feel they know everything they need to know. They present with confidence and significant knowledge, but once you dig a little further you soon realise there is still a great deal they do not know.

And sadly, these people will not grow in knowledge as they don’t believe they need any further learning.

Application: Paul, the apostle from the New Testament, had the opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect. To begin with, when his name was Saul, he was so knowledgeable in religious studies and had trained for years and years.

He lorded his knowledge over those he disagreed with, even welcoming violence to those in opposition to his beliefs.

But once he had a personal experience of God his whole demeanour changed. He got an understanding of how little he had really comprehended for so many years.

And so his mission changed and he humbly preached Jesus wherever he went.

It’s hard not to get cocky when we think we know something so personally. But let’s keep an open mind.

Having even the slight understanding of God means we couldn’t possibly comprehend all of Him. And yet, so often Christians show the Dunning-Kruger effect by thinking they know all there is to know about God.

Let’s not be lulled into such foolishness but always be open to learning more and more about God.

Prayer: Lord, You are so immense we could never fully understand You. May we hold onto that which we do know, but be willing to open ourselves up to new understandings. Amen.

What are you doing to learn more about God?

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This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.