Mike Webb and the Dunning-Kruger Effect


From time to time the world wide web serves up an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect that is to perfect that WC simply cannot pass it by. Meet Mike Webb, a self-styled conservative Republican candidate for Congress.

Candidate Webb wanted to show what the voters what a businessman he was. He posted to his Facebook page a screen shot of his browser window, open to the fifth of five tabs.

Source: Mike Webb Facebook Page

Source: Mike Webb Facebook Page

The first two tabs, plainly visible, suggest Candidate Webb may not be quite as fine a Christian and family values guy as he claims:

Source: Mike Webb Facebook Page

Source: Mike Webb Facebook Page

That’s right; two porn sites. The idiot error went viral. The comments were about what you’d expect. The Daily Kos picked it up and the comments there are representative.

Let’s refresh our recollections of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Essentially, it states that if you are sufficiently ignorant you don’t realize how ignorant you are. Dunning and Kruger often refer to a “double curse” when interpreting their findings: people fail to grasp their own incompetence, precisely because they are so incompetent. And since overcoming their incompetence would first require the ability to distinguish competence from incompetence, people get stuck in a vicious cycle.

Candidate Webb – who confuses “prolific” with pro-life – has the ignorant part down just fine. You can’t spend 10 minutes trying to read some of his Facebook posts without appreciating the vast gulfs of ignorance Candidate Webb possesses. That’s okay, most ignorance is curable. But if you are so dumb that you don’t know you’re dumb, you may be out of luck.

Which takes WC to Candidate Webb’s responses to his major gaffe. Like this one:

THANKS FOR THE TAB CHECK, RANGER BUDDIES!

“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

I must have recited or heard that verse a million times in invocations in my youth, alone, in that Psalmist’s praise to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. But, until, today, I never really knew the power of what that meant. Today’s notorious post reached almost 200,000 people. The succeeding post reached a little more than a tenth of that, and all through the viral infection of social media and word of mouth. And, I certainly received my share of “interesting” comments, but no more out of the ordinary than what I have received since beginning this quest. But, the truly amazing thing about today was that “I saw also the Lord, high and lifted up,” and I was very much moved by the love and support of those who expressed their encouragement and support, even some in the national and local press.

Candidate Webb is completely oblivious to the fact that 99% of those comments were mocking him. The “love and support” he claims to see is irony and sarcasm. The “200,000 people” is probably closer to 2 million. Plus a few more who read WC’s blog. Candidate Webb is too ignorant to recognize his ignorance. As additional consequences, he’s too ignorant to recognize he’s become nothing but a late night comedy joke and a classic example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Oh, and a horrible example to others.

See also: Christianists, Perverts and Hypocrites.

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One thought on “Mike Webb and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

  1. It never ceases to amaze. There’s also got to be some exponential multiplier of effect when also taking into account the willful ignorance factor. In some of my attempts at conversation with like-minded folk such as Mr. Webb, it really seems as if they are celebrating the fact that they are operating without facts.

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