Stephen Fry on Trump and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Now here’s a 7-minute video featuring two intriguing people: one smart and funny, and the other the incompetent victim of the former’s sarcasm. I speak, of course, of Stephen Fry and Donald Trump,  respectively, with Fry discussing whether Trump illustrates the Dunning-Kruger Effect: the observation that individuals of low ability tend to overestimate their competence more than do individuals of higher abilities. Lest this all depress you, note that Fry ends with a positive message.

The video, narrated by Fry, was put together by Pindex, and the YouTube notes are below.

For grins, here’s a screenshot showing Trump’s proposed budget changes:

Strange illusions shape Trumps views. In trying to protect America, he may unleash a killer that already claims 200,000 lives each year.

Voiced by Stephen Fry
Music by Hugh Mitchell: https://audiojungle.net/user/hughmitc…

Pindex.com is a pinboard for learning. If you’re a teacher, there are many engaging Science, History and English boards ready to assign, with quizzes and rewards.

Cognitive biases:
Salience bias (1.01): https://youtu.be/rW9R6jgE7SQ?t=60
The mere exposure effect (2.36): https://youtu.be/rW9R6jgE7SQ?t=156

Health and economic benefits of reduced air pollution (the EPA Clean Air Act):
https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-ove…

39 Comments

  1. Randy schenck
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Very good short video and may explain part of the problem but I think more complex than this. Few seem to consider the mental problems that may be associated with the Trump behavior. The visions of self grandeur and extremely short attention span and the inability to accept advice from even his close supporters. If you had to list all the negative traits to promote poor leadership this guy is hitting on all cylinders. He contradicts himself, all those around him and logic itself. One report I read yesterday reviewed instances where Trump simply made stuff up that were obviously not true and the conclusion was – the man is so incoherent he cannot be called wrong. He is often speaking as if on another planet.

    • Harrison
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      It’s the difference between lying and bullshitting. A liar knows the truth and deliberately contradicts it. A bullshitter doesn’t care.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      All side-effects of his essential malignant narcissism.

  2. Greg Geisler
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Well done. He nails it. Too bad that Trump supporters either don’t care or think that it is fake news.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      And don’t forget the ones that do care and think he’s just great because of all of his attributes that most sane, decent and reasonably well informed people think are big negatives.

  3. trevhoare
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Surely DT is an extreme example of this phenomenon! He is SO ignorant about almost everything and seems to think he is still on the apprentice.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Just a morning update on the last 24 hour cycle after firing the director of the FBI. Now Trump is threatening to cancel white house briefings and you may ask, why? In this short period his people, including the vice president stated that the reason for his firing was on advice of the assistant attorney general. Trump then stepped all over this by stating he made the decision and had been thinking about doing it since Jan. Life goes on…

  5. Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    This is very interesting.

    Der Drumpfenführer’s defenders just keep plowing ahead. They give approval to anything he does, anything. It’s really amazing.

    This is an experiment (unfortunately with the entire world at risk) on how much illogical, unstable, inane and insane garbage one electorate will eat before they finally say enough is enough.

    I have some fear that der Drumpfenführer has permanently reset the filters for US national politics. Now that’s a scary thought.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      I think you are being a bit fatalistic on this. Certainly it looks bad but it is only 100 days into the term and the wheels are coming off. Republicans who still have the guts to do town halls in their districts are getting raked over the coals by their voters. A few republicans have agreed with the democrats that it’s time for a special prosecutor. Trump is dancing closer all the time to committing illegal acts. I think it took nearly two years for Watergate to finish off Nixon. When the leadership in the republican party finally stand up, then we will see the helicopter ride.

      • darrelle
        Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        You give me a bit of hope. Which is somewhat ironic since your comments are more often on the glass half empty side of the aisle.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 12, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          I’m trying to improve my attitude, although I can’t think why.

      • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        I tend to agree. Trump is so careless and impetuous that he is going to cause more damage than benefit to the GOP. His support among GOP leadership is, as it has always been, based on a cost/benefit analysis and not on love for the man or his (nonexistent) principles.

      • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        I most sincerely hope you are correct.

        “A few republicans have agreed with the democrats that it’s time for a special prosecutor.”

        I’m from Missouri on this one. I’ll believe when the Special Prosecutor is actually appointed — and survives for at least a few months of active investigation. The GOP seems so amazingly craven in its apologies for Drumpf now.

        “Trump is dancing closer all the time to committing illegal acts.”

        He already has. They just haven’t come to light yet. I strongly believe they will — but will they before he’s done drastic damage, domestically and internationally? I’m pretty much glass half-full on that one.

        “I think it took nearly two years for Watergate to finish off Nixon. When the leadership in the republican party finally stand up, then we will see the helicopter ride.”

        See my first sentence in this comment.

        I remain skeptical of this: “When the leadership in the republican party finally stand up”

        Based on current behavior, they seem pathologically drunk on power and hubris.

        • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          meant to say “glass half-empty”

          I’m an engineer, and confused: I usually say “the glass is 50% over-designed” 🙂

          • darrelle
            Posted May 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            That’s good design. That’s for when you are several drinks on and you’ve developed that glass-holding list.

            I have a neat set of glasses that have round bottoms with a flared ring just above the rounded bottom and slash cut tops. You hand a guest their drink, they set it down, and it falls over. But only partly. It wobbles like a Weeble but never falls down.

      • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        ” … it is only 100 days into the term and the wheels are coming off.”

        I fully agree; and it certainly cheers me (in a schadenfreude-based way — I am worried about the effects on vulnerable people everywhere).

        But my worry is that the GOP and the Drumpf supporters seem completely impervious to his lies and blunders. They step up to microphones and excuse it, again and again and again.

        Where is the limit? What is bad enough for these idiots?

        Is it like the old joke at a former employer: To get fired around here you have to be caught, in flagrante delicto, screwing the secretary in a conference room?

    • sensorrhea
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Many of his supporters are trapped in the sunk-cost fallacy, among other cognitive problems.

      • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Indeed: The GOP has vigorously been screwing over the working class in the US since 1981 — approaching 40 years. And they will not see/understand this.

        Drumpf promises nothing but more of the same — but wait, there’s more, he’s also going to take away your: Social Security (fewer than 30% of US citizens have any retirement savings whatsoever.) Medicaid, even Medicare, if Ryan and the boys get their way.

        As my wife and I have been saying about the working class Drumpf supports since the election: Maybe they are so stupid they simply deserve to suffer all this.

        GOP: “Who’s been screwing you? It’s terrorists, illegal immigrants, drug dealers, blacks, gays, atheists, gun control. Not us, no way, it’s those taxandspend liberals.”

        • Sshort
          Posted May 12, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          Now, that is salient. Well done.

  6. sensorrhea
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Fry and Pindex need to make another one explaining why extreme narcissism inevitably leads to delusional and sociopathic cognition and behavior.

  7. Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I read that Dunning and Kruger were inspired by the case of someone who committed a robbery after covering his face with lemon juice, figuring that cincr it can be used as invisible ink it would protect him from CCTV.

    Please tell me that’s true!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      It’s in the Fry video at the very start. And yes it’s true.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted May 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Very few criminals have the mental sagacity of the fictional Professor Moriarty or Ernst Stavro Blofeld or Lex Luther.

      • Posted May 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        I guess I should have watched the video first but I was at work…

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Or to put it another way… There’s nothing online saying this isn’t true! And I can’t find a Snopes on the story

      “1995, McArthur Wheeler robbed a Fidelity Savings Bank and a Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, PA, on the same day. According to police, he was accompanied by an accomplice, Clifton Earl Johnston”

      However, with only limited amounts of searching due to being on my ‘phone today, I can’t find mugshots** of Wheeler & Johnston so I’m beginning to wonder if it’s actually baloney. Dunning read about the bank robberies four years after the event & never met the robbers, so perhaps he fell for a fake, entertaining story.

      I would expect some enterprising reporter to track down Wheeler or Johnston, but there’s nothing

      ** the lemon juice worked!

  8. BobTerrace
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Excellent video.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      +1.

      • Mike
        Posted May 13, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        +1 Basically Trump is too stupid to know he’s stupid.

  9. darrelle
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I think the video is great, bring on more. I think it is vital that Trump be hounded and exposed as often as possible.

    But as bad as Trump is there are some others that seem to be neglected, at least compared to Trump. At the top of my most despicable humans on the planet right now list are Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. They aren’t getting near as much heat as they deserve. These reprehensible, selfish assholes are keeping the Republican Party in line behind the disaster that is Trump so that they can steal as much power and money as possible and damn the consequences. Even the consequence of killing the proverbial geese that are laying the golden eggs they wish to steal.

    If they had the slightest bit of decency, or even just enough foresight and impulse control to keep their greed for power and money from causing them to act against their own overall best interests of stealing as much as possible, they would use their positions as leaders of the Republican Party to limit or even get rid of Trump.

    • Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      At the top of my most despicable humans on the planet right now list are Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. They aren’t getting near as much heat as they deserve. These reprehensible, selfish assholes are keeping the Republican Party in line behind the disaster that is Trump so that they can steal as much power and money as possible and damn the consequences.”

      Bullseye!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I agree too. Trump often has an excuse of ignorance or incompetence. Ryan and McConnell have no such excuse.

  10. busterggi
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Spreading doubts about our Trump?

    Blasphemy I tell you!

  11. Al
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    This video again exhibits liberals’ ridiculous and outrageous conflation of illegal and legal immigration. It is true that crime rates of immigrants are lower than those of the US-born. But this statistics does not distinguish between law-abiding legal immigrants and illegal ones. Most Americans welcome legal immigrant; it is illegal aliens they are concerned about. I somehow doubt that any legal immigrants arrive in the US by trudging across the southern border which is what the wall is supposed to stop (whether it will is another question).

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted May 12, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      While it is true that a high percentage of felonious immigrants are illegal, it does not follow that a high percentage of illegal immigrants are criminals.

      (A majority of atheists are Democrats- it is NOT true that a majority of Democrats are atheists. A majority of Buddhists are vegetarian- it is NOT true that a majority of vegetarians are Buddhist, etc. etc.)

      Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, has looked at statistics and concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.

      See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/trump-illegal-immigrants-crime.html?_r=0

      • Al
        Posted May 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        There are significant problems with Cato’s study outlined here and here. As outlined in the second link, most illegal immigrants routinely commit felonies by obtaining fake documents. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, “75 percent of all criminal defendants who were convicted and sentenced for federal drug offenses were illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants were also involved in 17 percent of all drug trafficking sentences and one third of all federal prison sentences.” (http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/crime/329589-the-truth-about-crime-illegal-immigrants-and-sanctuary-cities).

    • BikerProf
      Posted May 13, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Sub

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes think that Stephen Fry is the smartest atheist in the world (and a fine actor to boot- my fave performance of his is as Oscar Wilde in “Wilde”- his comments in the DVD are also superb.).

    I have worked as a private tutor starting in 2011, and I have had one student (out of about 70+ over the years) who was classic Dunning-Kruger in a troubling way. I quickly chose to drop him/her as a client (and he/she was the only one who insisted on a refund expressing dissatisfaction with my services).

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Not that he’s avuncular, but he’s the proverbial uncle dreaded @ Thanksgiving. The country needs a PFA.

  14. Posted May 12, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.


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