Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dunning K. Trump

The Dunning-Kruger effect has interested me since I wrote a short post about it in 2010. Dunning-Kruger helped explain something I had noticed in teaching: that students with serious deficits often have wildly inflated opinions about their ability. According to Dunning-Kruger, a lack of competence entails an inability to recognize one’s lack of competence.

Watching the presidential debate last night left me convinced that Donald Trump is, among other things, a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. He has no understanding of how government works, no grasp of how military strategy works, and he has no understanding that he lacks an understanding. Thus his ludicrous assertions: that Hillary Clinton should have changed the tax system (at some point during her “thirty years” in government), that the United States military needs to employ “the element of surprise.” In the second debate he called for “a sneak attack.” A sneak attack! That sounds like the suggestion of a bright third-grader.

And Trump has no understanding that he lacks an understanding of how his words might sound to anyone not already allied with him. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” he declared last night. And audience members laughed. I’m reminded of the story of a Hollywood mogul declaring, “I’ve got more class than any son of a bitch in the room.” Or words to that effect.

A related post
Steve Bushakis and Donald Trump

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