Don’t Dunning-Kruger it up: BusyBee gives a brief psychology lesson

18 Aug

I want you all to add a new phrase to your vocabulary (other than assmarmot and twatwaffle, which should already be there):

“He really Dunning-Krugered that one!”

Confused?  Wondering what the hell a Dunning-Kruger is? Think I’m just making up words now?  Well kids, it’s my favorite cognitive bias (wow…nerd alert).

According to Wikipedia, “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias manifesting in unskilled individuals suffering from illusory superiority,  mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude”  (Read the original study here)

Still confused?


Simply put,  people suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect are unskilled and unaware.   That’s right, it’s a double-whammy of ineptitude.


As many of us embedded in the dog world know, people Dunning-Kruger it all the time. That guy who insists that he’s the best dog trainer in the world and yet can’t get a decent down-stay out of his own dog?  The woman in an online forum who always has (bad) advice to shove down peoples’ throats?   The craptastic breeder who insists that her dogs are the best despite having no titles? That 19 year old dude who says he’s a dog training expert? (pro tip: 19 year old dudes aren’t experts on anything, except maybe consuming large amounts of food…and masturbation).

What do all these people have in common?  They’re totally Dunning-Krugering it.

Are you sure it's not you?

Are you sure it’s not you?


As many trainers can probably tell you, unskilled dog owners are easy to work with.  They can be taught and most are eager to learn.  But if they’re unskilled and think they’re the best thing to happen to the dog world since martingale collars?  Watch out.  These are the people who will literally drive you to the point of madness as you beat your head against the proverbial wall trying to deal with them as they merrily perch on the top of “Mt. Stupid”.


Don’t get stranded on Mt. Stupid. It’s a long way down.


So the next time a know-it-all dog owner/trainer/groomer/breeder pisses you off with their unwavering (over)confidence, just smile, nod, and chalk it up to good ‘ole Dunning-Kruger.



**So minions, any experience with the Dunning-Kruger effect?  Found any good ways to combat it? Just need to vent?  Share below!**

14 Responses to “Don’t Dunning-Kruger it up: BusyBee gives a brief psychology lesson”

  1. JScott August 19, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Only thing I’ve found that actually seems to help prove them an idiot is to ask for their resources. The last brick wall I had to listen spout the ‘truth’ of everything [insert breed here] sagely answered this question with Dogster and their own observations made through breeding pet dogs. Another similar case who was breeding her 16 pet dogs answered with, “I borrowed a book from the library.”

    • Deb August 19, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      I once asked a DK sufferer to cite her references and was accused of creatig drama. ;-/

  2. Dax August 19, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    Ha! This is the opposite of the imposter syndrome.

    • TheDogSnobs August 19, 2014 at 2:38 am #

      Exactly! It’s a matter of “how good you think you are” versus “how good you really are”.

    • Kitten August 19, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      I’ll bite: What’s that?

      • falnfenix August 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

        people who honestly don’t believe they’re as good as they actually are…they feel like they’re lying to everyone.

  3. Layla317 August 19, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Hey, so how do you fix a dunning-kreuger when they are 12-16 years old and their parents area super dunning-kreugers!! (I teach 4-H dog obedience) There is one in particular who thinks she is super amazing, but her dog doesn’t even know sit and runs away all the time. Everyone else in class has progressed at least some and most amazing amounts, she has regressed (she quit listening to us and started listening more to her parents who then inflated her already large ego). 😦

    • No Spam August 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      somehow hammer in her that (her) competence can only be confirmed if she produces repeated/repeatable wanted results?

  4. Vanessa August 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    I’m battling with this outside of the dog world at the moment (in the “real world”, if you will). The DKs are so completely oblivious that just trying to prove them wrong is a colossal waste of time and energy. I’m not sure yet what the best strategy will be, just that I spend an awful lot of time wanting to either shoot someone or run away. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone and idiots are everywhere!

  5. falnfenix August 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    oh god.

    my neighbor. he’s this guy who, in the time i’ve lived behind him, has owned three dogs. he insists he and his partner take the best possible care of their dogs. except the mini daschund? obese. he was almost as fat as he was long. both of their Corsos were obese, and one had to be put down due to extreme HD at the age of 4(!!). the other has pretty bad HD but at least the guy’s started walking her to get her weight down. it’s amazing, she stopped barking incessantly when he started giving her attention instead of punting her in the back yard all day long.

    they feed kibbles and bits (“muffy LOVED kibbles and bits! we couldn’t deny him!”). and they’ve NEVER been able to control the corsos, which is why they never walked them.

    the last time i walked past their house, i was letting my puppy do puppy things – sniff, wander to the end of the lead, etc. dude actually grabbed the leash out of my hand and attempted to train her for me. insisted he was a great trainer.

    i’ve never spoken with them or gone near their house again…it’s bad enough they ruined their dogs, i sure as hell won’t let them ruin mine.

  6. TerrierGal August 19, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    A person who calls herself Diamond Raven or Diamond G. Raven came to my attention a few months back when I saw her hijack a thread to promote her latest and greatest agility handling method. This came complete with some nice talking down to some extremely experienced agility handlers/trainers/instructors, including some world team members. I got sucked into the reading the thread for pure entertainment value as it was horrifying, yet also internet gold. Then I also went out into Cyberland to do some extra curricula research. I found Diamond Raven’s website where she PAINSTAKINGLY spells out her “awesome” complex verbal handling method complete with diagrams that misspell “turn” as “RUNT” in huge red letters. And then there is the one blog entry where she again PAINSTAKINGLY analyzes a course at AKC International Team Tryouts spelling out how she would run it using her “awesome” handling method. The last paragraph begins, “After crossing the finishline, we would come into first place, because we WOULD have a time under thirty seconds”. From what I found on her FB page, she ran a USDAA Starters Jumpers courses ONCE and came in 3rd (and knowing how starters classes can be, there may have only been 3 dogs in the class, who knows?). It was also determined by others participating in the aforementioned hijacked thread that she is either a teenager or just out of her teens. Whatever the case, she’s off her meds and definitely suffers from this affliction.

    • organictroll August 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

      Reading that sounds fun! She might even make my agility handling seem adequate!

  7. Steve Litt August 21, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    LOVE this post and my increased vocabulary as a result of reading it. One addition I reccomend. Please give credit to XKCD for the use of their comic. They are soooo good that everyone should know them…more education from you.

  8. Rachel December 9, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    OMG!! I was stewarding at an obedience trial last year, and there was a decently-behaved golden (English cream style, but that’s another discussion) competing in Novice B. The dog was NQ’d because of multiple handler errors — nothing the dog did was that bad…so the judge, in a misguided effort to be encouraging, approached the handler after the class, to suggest that they might look into taking a class to polish handling skills…Then the woman in the wheelchair next to the handler spoke up to inform the judge that it was her dog, and the handler WAS her trainer…so apparently she’d been paying $ for the craptastic skills and knowledge of a DK. Awkwardness! It was all I could do not to LOL.

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