Dunning Kruger Effect

July 22

2 comments

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Content Creation

By Nate McCallister

Last Updated July 22, 2020


Charles Darwin

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” 

Charles Darwin  //  The Descent of Man

I was 24 when I wrote my first real blog post. I cringe thinking about the overt, unmerited confidence I wrote with.

You'd have thought I was a savvy millionaire who had seen and done it all. In reality, I was a cocky kid who had made a few $1,000 doing one thing and thought I was the next Elon Musk

These weren't opinion pieces, these were "this is how it is," types of posts. 

Ooofff...

Little did I know how little I knew.

I still had countless numbers of massive mistakes to make. Things that would mold me into something much closer to an expert and open my eyes to how naive I really was. 

As I started to realize how little I knew, I found myself sharing less and less.

I started to read and listen more and write more about my personal experiences than what I believed were absolute truths.

Now, I feel confident I have a strong but imperfect understanding of the internet business arena. Shockingly, I still am not as confident as I was back in year #1.

This is the Dunning-Kruger effect and it's not uncommon, especially among content creators. 

What Is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

In the field of psychology, The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias that people with a low competence in a task frequently overestimate their ability while people with higher competence frequently underestimate their ability.

Dunning-Kruger Effect Graph

The Dunning-Kruger in Content Creation

One of the great misconceptions among content creators is that we assume that people will only listen to us if we have all the answers. 

In reality, that's simply not the case. 

  • They create courses on topics they've had only minimal success with themselves
  • They write blog posts exposing "truths" that they'll change their opinions on in the near future
  • They speak in absolutes before they've really tried alternatives

We don't need to do this.

Fighting the Dunning-Kruger Effect

First, besides the cringe factor later on, I see no real harm in falling victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect early on in your career. 

It's perfectly normal and, luckily, you won't have a huge audience right of the gate to see this early cringey content.

I'd argue that falling victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect and exuding overconfidence is better than falling victim to imposter syndrome and never sharing anything at all.

However, if you're new and want to avoid it, here's how...

It's about being selective with what we discuss and how we discuss it. 

For example, I could start a blog about gardening, even though I'm not a gardener. 

I could also do this without "faking it until I make it."

How? By sharing my story and experiences. 

  • "Inside My First Attempt at Growing Beets"
  • "Here's How I Just Killed My Tomatoes"
  • "The 5 Plants I'm Most Excited to Try to Grow"

You see? 

Those are all very interesting topics BUT they don't feign expertise. They don't have to. 

So, instead of assuming you have to adopt the persona of the "expert" or "guru," consider adopting the persona of the tester or documentarian. 

About the author

Nate is the founder and main contributor of EntreResource.com. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur who spends his time building businesses and raising his four kids Sawyer, Brooks, Van and Lua with his beautiful wife Emily. His main interests include copywriting, economics and piano.

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  1. Well said. I feel similar about my writing when I started out online. It’s so funny how, with time, you make more money and can give better advice, but feel dumber than ever before because you realize how much you actually don’t know to give a concrete answer that can’t change.

    I think it’s the biggest lesson anyone can ever learn to have a successful online business.

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