April 14th, 2021

Me 2012

The Dunning-Kruger Effect, But It’s Me

This struck me as a good blog post prompt: “think of an occasion where you exemplified the Dunning-Kruger effect.”

I’ll pick an amusing area that came to mind on this, rather than, say, the horrific and cringe-inducing ones that also come to mind.

Me-1984: “I’ve read SO MANY books! I know exactly how to write a novel! Watch me, it’s gonna have a friendly dragon and a talking horse and princesses rescuing their lovers and I’m just gonna dive right into it because world-building and outlines are for people who don’t know what they’re doing.”
Me-1987: “Yeah, Me-1984 was wrong. Maybe I should give this ‘outline’ thing a try. I don’t need to write, like, a WHOLE outline, do I? Like if I just know the beginning and the end, that should be enough?”
Me-2002: “No, Me-1987, that is not enough. But I know what I need now! A detailed outline!”
Me-2002: “And because writing is so hard, I should pick a Truly Great idea, not just toss together my favorite tropes. I should write the kind of story that I’ve never read before. Like one where the world is awful and the protagonists lose in the end! The kind of story that literary figures love!”
Me-2006: “So, uh, Me-2002, you know that the reason that you’ve never read that kind of story before is that you hate it, right?”
Me-2002: “Nonsense! I love great literature.”
Me-2006: “Noooo not so much.”
Me-2002: “But this idea is so special and unique that no one has ever written something like it in SFF -- “
Me-2006: “GIRL IT IS OUT THERE. You don’t read it because you don’t like it! You don’t enjoy reading it and you think you will have a good time writing an entire book like that??”
Me-2004: “... so I finished it.”
Me-2004: “It was not great.”
Me-2004: “But I figured out the problem!”
Me-2006: “Oh thank goodness”
Me-2004: “Outlines are bad!”
Me-2006: “... we’re sure about that?”
Me-2004: “Well, it’s one of the problems, anyway.”
Me-2006: “Okay, well, I finished a book without writing an outline, so that must be it.”
Me-2012: “Yeah I don’t think that was it.”
Me-2006: “What why not?”
Me-2012: “Haven’t finished a book since 2006.”
Me-2006: “Oh. Whoops.”
Me-2012: “Gonna try that outline thing again.”
Me-2021: “So I’ve completed, uh, a lot of books now.”
All My Past Selves: “Ooh really? How many? Are they published?”
Me-2021: “Um. Lemme count. 11 novels, 1 novella, one collection of three novellas. 1 novel awaiting publication. 3 manuscripts that needing editing. 1 WIP novel.”
All My Past Selves: “Wow! You must know everything now! Tell us the secret! How did you do it?” *chinhands*
Me-2021: “Yeah I have no idea.”
Me-2021: “I mean, I have plenty of ideas.”
Me-2021: “But they’re probably wrong.”
Me-2021: “I have an incredibly long history of being wrong so”
Me-2021: “idk magic or something.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have to wonder how much of the “experts lack confidence” side of the Dunning-Kruger effect is “after people gain experience, they realize they’ve been wrong SO MUCH in the past, and therefore the odds that they’re right THIS TIME seem pretty slim.”

Anyway, if you can think of times where you too served as an example for Dunning-Kruger, I'd love to hear it, either in comments or your own post. *chinhands* :)

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