See the spike on that graph? It’s labeled Mt. Stupid. Right now, that’s pretty much where most of our COVID-19 related posts are situated. The Dunning-Kruger Effect illustrates how most of us approach knowledge. It starts with knowing nothing. Next minute, we know a little and our confidence soars. Our ego lies to us, letting us believe we are definitely on-par with national leaders, biophysicists and should be considered as a top advisor to the World Health Organisation.
A few weeks/months later, we realise how complex it all really is. We’re reminded that we didn’t go to University for years after our undergrad and write an overwhelming 80,000 word academic thesis; citing hundreds of comprehensive references for a PhD. Yes, eighty thousand frickin’ words…on one research topic!
When we leave Mt Stupid, the new landscape reminds us that knowledge and wisdom are gained over thousands hours, and many years of study and experience. We realise that we’re just behaving like a bunch of pubescent know-it-alls. We may even acknowledge that true experts are marked with enough wisdom to confidently say that they’re not 100% sure at this time; because that would deny the consideration of new knowledge and insight.
I get it. We’re nervous. We’re anxious. Many devastated through loss. We all have skin in the game in this crisis. R.E.M’s ‘End of the world’ track is on repeat in our heads. People hoarding loo paper for God-knows-why. But let’s cool it with the ‘I know better’ rhetoric. Let’s cool it with conspiracies and unsubstantiated here-say medical advice which ‘I heard from a nurse’ somewhere ??♂️. Can’t we just stick to the basics we’re getting? Keep social distance where possible. Wash your hands a lot. Stay at home when you’re told.
Unfortunately folks, it’s that simple and boring this side of the lab.
Today, by posting this, I’m laying down my right to climb Mt. Stupid and sprout advice and opinion from its summit – regardless of my confidence. I’m leaving that to the experts who’ve earned a place at the table. Instead, I’m going to direct my energy towards things I can control. Things like caring for my family, my friends, my neighbour and my own physical and mental health. Who’s climbing down with me?
~ David Tensen