If you’re dumb…

“If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”

~Isaac Jaffe [Robert Gullaime], Sports Night

Great advice, and a classic Sorkinism. But it’s difficult to live by, because so many smart people seem to think that everyone who disagrees with them is dumb by definition, which is like a smart person’s version of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it’s the tendency of incompetent people to mistakenly overestimate their own abilities, popularly oversimplified to “dumb people don’t know how dumb they are.” But the DKE is actually about ability… and smart people actually have many clever strategies for overestimating their own competence. This is the problem with experts, who are notorious for pompously reaching beyond their expertise, “intelligently” overestimating their ability to do so without sounding like idiots. We can all be bitten by the DKE in specific domains!