Donnerstag, 6. November 2014

Article: Tai Chi Chuan and the Dunning-Kruger-Effect

Who knows, does not talk.
Who talks, does not know.

(Laozi 56)

Well, this may be so, but as we know, Daoists in Tai Chi Chuan are quite rare hence there are a lot of discussions with experts and so called experts e.g. on the internet. Do these discussions help to illuminate us? If they do, it is fine:

I do not know, thus I am talking. Then I know.

Unfortunately, you may also notice, that often participants in discussions present their 'knowledge' or better their lack of it with great self-confidence, even though they may be rather unqualified on the topic. This could be explained by the Dunning-Kruger-Effect.

The psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger had noted in their studies that self-confidence with respect to a particular topic is greater when one has little knowledge about the topic than when one has a lot of knowledge. Through further studies, they came to the following observations:

- Less competent people tend to overestimate their knowledge/skills.
- Less competent people tend not to recognize knowledge/skill in the superior people.
- Less competent people tend not to recognize their own incompetence.

In summary, the Dunning-Kruger-Effect points out the tendency of incompetent people to overestimate their own knowledge/skills and to underestimate the achievements of more competent people. (Dunning and Kruger were awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize for their research.)

So, if a Tai Chi discussion is hotting up, I recommend to consider the Dunning-Kruger effect (Mirror, mirror on the wall ... hopefully I - Martin Boedicker - am competent enough to speak about the Dunning-Kruger effect) and to try it with Confucius (I, 1):

The master says: "If friends are coming from afar, is this not enjoyable?"

Perhaps one should just be a bit more generous, consider the other as a friend from far away and ignore their little flaws. Expect the Dunning-Kruger effect to happen - the others might just not be able to judge the situation correctly. Thus one can relax and keep friendship alive. Is it not said:

Taiji yijia - Tai Chi Chuan is one family.

Thanks for your time

Martin Boedicker

1 Kommentar:

  1. Exactly to the point!!!
    (Du sprichst mir aus der Seele!)
    I had no idea that well-known phenomenon had a scientific name! The way I like to phrase it: the more limited the horizon, the more people are convinced to have seen and know the whole world!
    Hence the self-confidence of beginners (i.e. after the first few years of practise).
    By the way:
    At a conference end of 2014 I followed a talk by an economist presenting (experiential) evidence for another common phenomenon:
    - men tend to overestimate their capabilities (strongly)
    - women tend to underestimate their capabilities (not so much - they are more realistic in predicting their chances).