They need to read more books.

We’ve touched on the Dunning-Kruger effect before. It’s a fun effect! Here’s the Wikipedia entry, to save you Googling. Or a nice video if you prefer.

Discussion (46)¬

  1. Wow. Funny and educational. The whole enchilada here. I’d never heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Or rather I was familiar with it, but not by that name. Thanks again for a great strip.

  2. Intelligent Designer says:

    Great! All I need is a metacognitive complex this morning 🙁
    Just having to look the effect up was enough to hold a mirror to my ignorance.
    Still, good strip today, author!

  3. aleph zero says:

    Awesome strip today! didn’t know a thing about the Dunning-Kruger effect. I really love when I can learn and think from a laugh! 😉 Keep on this way…

    p.s. I am not a spammer. Should I swear on god?! If yes, wich one? getting a bit confused… 😀

  4. The original is great too. The very idea of being an expert in theology cracks me up. It’s like knowing everything there is to know about a mistaken understanding of reality, everything except that it was a mistaken understanding.

  5. Tom says:

    likes this.

  6. dimbulb says:

    My instantaneous recognition of the depth of my ignorance of Dunning-Kruger turns out to be a good thing. I looked it up and now I know and that’s a good thing too.

    Barmaid is so educational.

  7. Patrick says:

    Oh, hell yes!!
    I swear to Odin; Horus; Vishnu, etc. I am not a spammer.

  8. Patrick says:

    …nor do I believe in any of the above but they are infinitely more interesting than biblegod.

  9. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Dunning Kruger, a new phrase they’ve found
    Sort of makes an intellectual sound
    Like environment or greener
    Or even self professed wiener
    Preposterous elitists in bars, how profound.

  10. Sondra says:

    Great strip! Those first two panels are such a breath of fresh air. I love it when you say so concisely exactly what I’ve been trying to condense for years.

  11. gobbycoot says:


  12. joe says:

    Yeah — ‘cept it also applies (to a lesser extent) in science, where huge swaths of basically intractable problems have solutions offered with unjustified confidence.

    There’d be no evo-psych (for one of the worst examples) if folks understood what are intractable inverse problems. Many of the folks laughing (justifiably) should be laughing a bit nervously.

    DK isn’t just for fundies.

  13. Rhea says:

    Yeats said it best in “The Second Coming”:

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  14. Oozoid says:

    I doubt everything, except the validity of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Where does that leave me? Perhaps in the same awkward place as Carl Sagan when he said, ‘The only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths.’

  15. Chip Camden says:

    The real paradox here is that believers think they are avoiding this bias, because they aren’t trusting in their own intellect but rather in the word of God. They fail to see that believing that it is the word of God is itself an intellectual evaluation which they far from qualified to make.

  16. gobbycoot says:

    Joe, it applies to everything…Author just used it to good effect on the fundies because, well, that’s what J&M is all about.
    Author, any chance of getting a fb Like button on here? 🙂 Pretty please?

  17. steve oberski says:

    Joe, you are correct in pointing out that DK applies in science.

    However science has a feed back mechanism that makes it self correcting where as that is not the case with religion*

    * actually religion does have a feed back mechanism, but it’s a positive feed back mechanism, like a thermostat that runs the furnace hotter the hotter it gets.

  18. methuzla says:

    I love this.
    So many experts here!

  19. Mark says:

    Many Christians, Jews and Muslims don’t really worship their god, they worship their “holy” books.

  20. Trine says:

    Aha – now I know what the Dunning-Kruger effect is!

  21. Stephen Turner says:

    A piece a few days ago found that Tea Party voters believe themselves to be well-informed about climate change.

  22. xavier says:

    I’ve been a fan of this for a very long time. I’ve enjoyed both, Author’s genial art and the comments that followed. But I’ve always shied away from joining the always lively discussioins here. Anyway, on topic, I just read over a heated debate of some forum about a certain art sites which the religous members wanted taken down, and thought it worth sharing it here. While I was reading it struck to me how true this cartoon is.

    I’ll describe one exchange which later i will provide the link so that you can see it for yourself. One opponent to the ban, a possible agnostic/atheist defended the art site by saying “i believe that god appreciates us all in the way we are.” They were referring to nudity in art.

    Then one proponent of the ban who is labeled as ‘True Christian™ Creation Scientist’ lashed out with this response, “Can you back your assertion with Scripture? I was under the impression that God appreciates our fear and obedience rather than some vain sense of individuality.”

    Did he not just confirmed that God is megalomaniac tyrrant. That comment seemed so masochistic to me. The man prefers to worship a dictator like Lord? A God who prefers his follower be slaves? I mean the possible agnostic/atheist was saying God is a great, all happy smily God (actually defending by painting God in a positive light) then the ‘True Christian™’ just shot him down!

    btw, loved how they put a trademark on True Christian™.

    here’s the link –
    it’s post number 337, and there are tons of goodies there.


  23. xavier says:

    sorry me again. i just read this one comment from the same True Christian™ character from the forum i posted the link above.

    he posted: “The Bible makes it very clear that the earth is a circle. Not a sphere – a circle. Not a three-dimensional round object – a two-dimensional round object. Again, your bucket holds no water.”

    A circle? A two-dimensional round object? Now I am unclear wheter he’s defending the Bible or mocking it.

  24. FreeFox says:

    @Xavier: You know, I never understood that position you propose. IF the God of monotheism exists, what requires him to be likeable or go with the fashion of what is politically correct? I mean, if you look around in the world, does it strike you as having been created by someone who is especially democratic, humanitarian, and fair-minded? But observing that is no more masochistic than observing that most of the universe is rather cold and dark and filled with dangerous radiation and not much else. A lot can be said about the factuality of God, but whether He is a nice guy has no bearing on the matter, I would think. And while I am certainly not a True Christian in any way, I agree with those who are that there are many calling themselves Christians who do not actually meet the minimum requirements for that lable. So the TM isn’t really quite as outrageous as it might seem. ^_^ (But I think you are right, and the bloke is either an unbelievable literalist or might actually be an atheist troll having a lark.)

  25. some Matt or other says:

    Landover Baptist is a parody site. A brilliant one, mind you – more than once, I’ve stumbled across one of its articles and taken it at face value before remembering why the URL sounded familiar. The trademarked term “True Christian™” is kind of a running gag across the whole site, and is a label for a certain class of forum participants. Reading the thread xavier linked to, that particular TC™, “Jedediah,” is doing some high-quality deadpan. “This is precisely why God warns us about thinking for ourselves.”

    Incidentally, they also have the funniest Terms of Service agreement I’ve ever read. Just scroll down and dig in anywhere. “By reading this, you hereby agree to grant Landover an unrestricted and permanent ownership and right to any material on any computer you own or operate, and any computers connected to any networks you may have access to, legally or illegally.”

  26. Tony B says:

    It saddens me that I had to research that joke, then double check myself to make sure I understood it!!

  27. Mary2 says:

    @Free Fox: You might believe in a tyrant god, but why would you worship him?

  28. @Freefox. further to Mary2, why would the Christians expect us to believe that he is a loving god? A god who sees the little sparrow fall? A god who gives a rats ass who we sleep with or whether we sing his praises? Even if I thought God existed, it seems like a good idea to ignore Him and act like he didn’t. Kind of a revers Pascal’s wager.
    By the way, I have a friend who talks about her version of God as The Old Bitch Above. Her God is a rather floozy old woman in a pink bath robe with a martini in her hand, looking down on humanity and occasionally fucking somebody over just for a giggle, usually as a reaction to hubris. The OBA is capable of helping you, but don’t count on it. It’s really easy to piss her off. She’s unpredictable and whimsical and subject to PMS mood swings. A much easier God to believe in than the standard patriarchal dude of the Christians.

  29. durham669 says:

    Xavier, further to your post about the “True Christian” with a trademark (that is funny!), it’s referencing a logical fallacy that is used by Christians frequently. See the No true Scotsman fallacy:

    You’ll see it frequently. For example, the gunmen in Norway that killed 80 people recently was a Christian. But Christians will claim that he wasn’t a “true” Christian.

  30. Mary2 says:

    @Darwin Harmless, LOVE the Old Bitch Above. How do I convert?

  31. @Mary2 I don’t think there is a church of the OBA. Why don’t we start one. I’ll do a Google and see if anybody has the jump on us. Great idea.

  32. @Mary2 Wouldn’t you know it. There’s an Old Bitch Above page on FaceBook. Another great opportunity missed.

  33. FreeFox says:

    @DH & Rose:

    “You young fellers, you haven’t a bloody clue… I used to come down here with the wife, and the twins. Darren got himself killed in Vietnam. Sean and me both got a bit the worse for wear when we heard the news. He crashed the car, but only I crawled away. And, when I got out of hospital, me and the wife carried on walking down here. Then she got a lump in her breast. Anyway… now it’s just me.
    And I still come down here to watch the sun set. Y’know, most every night it’s a bloody beaut. And every night it’s different. And I think, well, I’ve had a shit of a life, all things considered. It wasn’t fair. Everyone I’ve ever loved is dead, and my leg hurts all the bloody time…
    But I think, any god that can do sunsets like that, a different one every night… ‘strewth, well, you’re got to respect the old bastard, haven’t you?”
    (Neil Gaiman, Sandman: The Season of Mists – and the scene is especially funny when you consider the old man says all this to Lucifer who just abdicated Hell and is chilling it on the beach in Perth, Australia. Lucifer’s finally comment towards the horizon: “All right. I admit it. He’s got a point. The sunsets are bloody marvelous, you old bastard. Satisfied?”)

    Yeah, my God – the old bastard – sounds like he is on good speaking terms with the OBA. ^_^

    I think the Book of Job (the original, without the tacked on happy ending) explains quite well why we worship such an viscious bastard. After all, where were we when He raised the pillars of the earth and put the sea in its walls, when he hung the stars in the sky, and filled the world with passion and pestilence, love, light, lungs worms, and liverwurst, with death and dreams and all that goes with it?

    It isn’t really necessary to whitewash and bowdlerise Him (or Her).

  34. FreeFox says:

    Damn, Mary, I apologise. No idea why I typed “Rose”.

  35. xavier says:

    @some Matt, you are right, i just wikied Landover Baptist, the entire site is a joke, albeit a very, very good one. They completely fooled me. It just that I had actually met people who were like that in real life.

  36. some Matt or other says:

    @xavier, ever hear of Poe’s Law?

    The brilliant thing about Landover’s forums is that everyone there is a troll, but they don’t need to go anywhere to do their trolling. Victims just waltz right in, already in a huff. For instance, at the thread you linked to started with the bait, a “fundamentalist” denouncement of, then a few days later a couple of poor souls intent on defending the site fed the fire, and boom, suddenly 35 pages of top-notch deadpan and misplaced indignation. I have to thank you for falling for it, because until I followed your link I had no idea that that forum even existed.

  37. FreeFox says:

    @durham: I know exactly what you mean, mate. Atheists keep telling me I’m not a true theist all the time, because true theists are supposed to say totally different things from what I say… *shakes head sadly and shrugs* ^_^

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF: re; ” Atheists keep telling me I’m not a true theist all the time”.
    So if you’re not a theist all the time, would that technically make you agnostic (just as this comment has technically made me pedantic)?
    Seriously though, if you really believe only a fraction of what you claim to believe, then this atheist would say that you were a truer theist than Christ himself. But then again, ‘if’ is the key!

  39. Mike Kruger says:

    “Basic economics” indeed — since Alan Krueger just got named to chair the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors and “dunning” is something you do when a customer owes you money, another economic concept.

    (Neither of these Kru(e)gers is a relative.)

  40. Carol875 says:

    Brilliant! Dunning and Kruger ended the article describing their research behind the effect that bears their name with: “… our thesis leaves us with one haunting worry that we cannot vanquish. That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication” [that their own cognitive shortcomings might prevent them from recognizing]. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1121

  41. Jerry w says:

    When I hear of someone who is described as a fundamental ________ (anything), I try to keep it in perspective. It’s easy, just remember that the “Fun” part is going to be almost non-existent, but the “Mental” part is going to be huge. See, easy huh?

  42. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @Jerry w: I have a similar theory about the word ‘psychotherapist’, only there’s no fun at all to be found either side of ‘the’.

  43. Jerry w says:

    I’ve seen therapist spelled out with a underscore between the e and the r, I suppose it could be funny if you’re not seeing one of them or sprawled out on their couch.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I’ll never be able to look at Frasier Crane in the same light again!

  45. witness-for-future says:

    Charles Darwin: “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.

    Verily, he is a great man!

  46. witness-for-future says:

    I visited the Landover baptist website … 😀 … I believe it is a big joke, a kind of joke only the crazy british can muster! ha .. ha


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