The People Behind the Latest Issue of ‘Pacific Standard': David Dunning

As a young psychologist, David Dunning was baffled by human ignorance.
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As a young psychologist, David Dunning was baffled by human ignorance. “People would say the most outrageous things,” he says. “I thought they had to know how outrageous they sounded.” He decided to put their self-awareness to the test: In a now-landmark study, he compared participants’ scores on humor, logic, and grammar exams with their self-assessment of their performances. “We discovered that people have almost no insight into their errors,” he says. In “We Are All Confident Idiots,” Dunning, a professor at Cornell, writes about the dangers of our ignorance. “The world often speaks in very blunt truths,” he says. “We would do well to listen when it comes to information about ourselves.”

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