The Power of Rethinking: How to Beat the Overconfidence Effect in Yourself and Others

In 1933, the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that “the fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” While this is just as true today as it was in the early twentieth-century, the problem actually runs deeper; almost everyone recognizes arrogance and overconfidence in others—but never in themselves.

Since the time of Russell, what’s become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect has been experimentally validated. Research shows—and personal experience confirms—that those who are the least knowledgeable in a subject tend to be the ones who overestimate their own knowledge and abilities, while those that are full of doubt know enough about the topic to better gauge the extent of their ignorance. 

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