How Good Are You?

I’m fascinated by the various ways that we incorrectly perceive the world around us.  For instance, I recently read about a cognitive fallacy that I like because I have experienced it’s truth: People who are beginners in a field tend to overestimate their ability in that field because they don’t have enough knowledge to know just how little they actually know.

Personally, I would love to be able to create better illustrations using a vector art tool.  Seems simple enough, until you realize that seeing computer art is way easier than constructing computer art. Ignorance is bliss, but in the case of this fallacy it can quickly cause people to get in over their heads.  When I saw this chart, I thought it was a wonderful and hilarious illustration of this exact concept (from the DataViz blog):

It’s important to remember that as we assess our abilities or our knowledge that we don’t know how much we don’t know. Especially at the beginning, we are not the best judges of how good we are.  Experience makes a huge difference.






2 responses to “How Good Are You?”

  1. Dad Avatar

    Hi Matt,

    Today really hit home yesterday when I was lecturing my shoulder specialist surgeon on how the muscles work in MY shoulder and what is causing me pain. He was amazingly patient explaining that he had 10 years of specialist training on the shoulder and although I may have read a few articles and seen a few uTube videos I could learn a few things :). I have now assumed my rightful place at the bottom of the learning curve again.

  2. David Avatar

    Funny chart for sure. I tend to think of learning as two related curves. Knowledge and Consciousness. Knowing what you don’t know shows a certain level of self-awareness. Then comes the opportunity to learn. A beginner may actually be super talented until she learns there is something better. The Knowing curve falls because she has to unlearn some things as the Consciousness curve rises. The problem with knowing what you know is when you can’t stop thinking about it. The goal is to get back to that state where consciousness falls but the knowing stays high. That’s the state of Flow. Then of course, she discovers something else she doesn’t know and the cycle starts again.

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