Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Dunning-Kruger Effect in My Life

Somewhat related to my previous post, I just found out about the Dunning-Kruger effect, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.” It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the context in which I learned about this was an online discussion of our current president, but it immediately got me thinking about myself. For sure I had some of this back when I was obsessed with tennis and thought someday I would be a great tennis player, but that might have just been the “folly of youth,” or more precisely, “the idiocy of adolescence.” And even I could see that with all my tennis playing, my improvement was not nearly as great as that of my friend who always played with me, because she had more natural ability. When it comes to tennis, pretty much anyone has more natural ability than I do. However, as a “mature” adult I have long since accepted that I have no athletic ability. What my lack of interest in writing may have to do with is coming out of a Dunning-Kruger effect regarding my writing ability. I say this because I was asked to write a blog post for our work blog some time ago, since people know that I have this blog and do other writing as well. This became an exercise in frustration when I was asked to rewrite it three times, and then my ultimate humbling came when someone else was asked to take over because my tone was not “conversational enough.” Huh, I always thought my writing was breezy and casual. The other person also had to rewrite the blog post three times, but at least her final product was deemed acceptable. Since this person is better than I am at organizational skills and just about everything else, it seemed cosmically unjust that she would also be better at writing, a more creative skill. But maybe I am just suffering the Dunning-Kruger effect regarding my writing, and maybe I have always suspected this, which may be why I have never, ever submitted any of my writing to be published. Only once did I enter a writing contest, in grade school under duress from a teacher, and I did actually win, but that was my one moment of glory. Oh, and my two poems that were set to choral works by my OTHER choir director’s composer friend. Still, it is a bit sad to think that I may actually be below average in the one skill I had prided myself on having, so the best course of action seems to be accepting that I will never be a great writer.

Famous Hat

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