In the field of psychology, there is what has come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Most of us have observed this in people who don’t actually know a great deal but have this ignorant superiority. They either don’t have the ability or lack the self-awareness to know they are incompetent.
The phenomenon was named by researchers who described a bank robber who covered his face in lemon juice thinking it would make him invisible to surveillance cameras. I’ve seen this effect when I speak to high school students who confidently comment about subjects that they hardly know anything about.
I thought about this psychological effect the other day while reading Michael Knowles complain about the latest erroneous statements by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He then concludes that, “The seed of Millennial miseducation, which grew from the Tree of the Lack of Knowledge . . . is finally bearing its rotten fruit.” He also points to one survey listing so many historical facts this generation doesn’t know. But that doesn’t keep them from speaking out dogmatically about topics they need to go back and learn.
You can see this in a recent Twitter feud. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made some erroneous statements about corporations that appeared in The Atlantic. Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave her statement three Pinocchios for its large number of factual inaccuracies. That’s when the member of Congress jumped on Twitter to needle Kessler. You can read the back-and-forth and see that she never accepts his assessment even as he provides more and more contradictory evidence.
What we need today is more humility and a willingness to stop and reflect rather than indignation and ignorant superiority.