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The Dunning Kruger Effect

In 1995, a man walked into two different banks on the same day and robbed them. He was not wearing a mask and looked right into the cameras. He was arrested later that day and was genuinely perplexed as to how he was caught because he stated that he had put lemon juice on his face. It was his belief that lemon juice would shield his identity from the cameras.

He was later found to be of sound mind and not on any drugs at the time. He literally believed that lemon juice would make him invisible because it worked on ink with paper. This led two psychologists (Dunning and Kruger) to study what would make a person of sound mind act in such a manner.

What they discovered was that people who are less intelligent overestimate their abilities and those who are at the highest end of intelligence actually underestimate their abilities.

We are seeing this effect play out daily in our lives and I see it on the football field all of the time. Under developed players, who think they have a grasp of the game, overestimate their abilities. They do so because they have not taken the time to recognize how much they don't know about the game.

For example, suppose a player thinks all there is to blocking is getting their hands into the chest of the defender and moving his feet. He is good at both and when asked would say he is a good blocker. Now he is asked, what do you do when the defender has longer arms, or the other player has quicker feet, or the other player shifts pre-snap, etc.

The once confident blocker begins to realize there might be more to blocking then what he initially realized. The better player is the one who seeks to know what he does not already know. He realizes the scope of his own ignorance and works to become better educated.

Recognizing his personal limitations might encourage him to ask for assistance or to change his technique. It also leads him to become a better player and expand his set of skills.

I see the Dunning Kruger effect in all aspects of life and especially in my walk with Christ. It is too easy to become complacent in my faith and get comfortable with my current understanding of the Gospel and to think I have it figured out.

The truth is there is not enough time in the day or days in the years to fully recognize and perfect what God has in plan for each of us. We must realize we serve an amazing God who is omnipotent and omniscient. There is no end to our ability to learn and only we can limit ourselves.


Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

Proverbs 18:15


Thewisest people will be the most voracious learners. They will usually recognize they have above average skills but they will also recognize how much more they have to learn and this is the key to their success.

We want to strive every day to be learners in all that we do be it on the field of play, at work, at home or in our walk with Christ. When you put your head on the pillow at night do so having gleaned one more bit of knowledge because you opened your ears, heart and mind to what others have to offer.

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