Dunning–Kruger Effect

In 2009 I needed to use up annual leave before the end of the financial year. I booked two weeks off and two weeks before my holiday I booked a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. The night before I flew out, I booked three nights’ accommodation at a hotel in Bangkok. It was all very last minute. There were no plans and I made my plans as I went along.

I decided to go to Sein Reap, Cambodia. On the bus to Sein Reap I got to know three guys, one was from Australia, one from Japan and the other was Finnish. We hung out together and explored Sein Reap’s most famous attraction, the temples of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. There are many temples and we spent a couple of days exploring them by bicycle.

One of my regrets was only taking a small compact digital camera. I left my film SLR camera at home. I only realised this when one of my travel companions pulled out his new digital SLR. I was very envious.

All the photos in this blog were taken with the compact camera. When I got home, I started saving and bought myself a digital SLR camera. To make the most of this camera functionality I had a lot to learn. Looking back at the photos then, compared to now, I feel my photography has improved greatly.

Recently I saw a YouTube video on the Dunning–Kruger effect. In psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. These people have an illusion of superiority which comes from the inability to recognize their own lack of ability. They used photography as an example in this YouTube video.

Why I write about this is if we to look at ourselves as a society on this graph. Where would we be? While I am not an expert in history, I cannot think of many times in history when we regressed and were less advanced than our forebearers. There were the dark ages but in modern times I can think of only one. The Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.  

The Khmer Rouge was led by Pol Pot and took control of Cambodia in 1970. Between 1975 till 1979 Pol Pot was responsible for the death of 1.5 to 2 million people, around 25% of Cambodia’s population. This included professionals, intellectuals, the Buddhist monkhood and ethnic minorities.

Maybe somehow in a deluded way Pol Pot and his Marxist followers believed that this was progress.

Are we really as advanced as we believe? Honestly, where do you think our society would be on this graph?

Are we in the know- nothing but high in confidence stage heading for the peak of Mount Stupid or are we growing on the slope of enlightenment?

Is science and technology going to be our saviour? Will our political system bring the change we need?

Is our dependence on technology causing our natural abilities to deteriorate?

Wow that is a lot of questions! Well the Dunning–Kruger effect graph is only a theory and probably does not apply to populations of people but if we carry on our current course it could be possible that we are heading for a fall. How do we prevent the fall into the valley of despair?

Each and every one of us is responsible. We are responsible for our personal and spiritual growth. We are responsible for developing our own true confidence and wisdom.

We don’t prevent our personal fall into the valley of despair. This is our dark night of the soul, the time to escape the control of the ego! By passing through this we can each achieve our own enlightenment and become our very own Guru!

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

My travel companions

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