Header art by Major Sniper
We can learn many lessons from EVE Online. I do not mean we can learn about what a module does what under specific circumstances or such like “learnings.” I mean that EVE Online can teach us about ourselves and others. So, as a little detour from the stories of New Eden, let’s venture to the more academic. Today we will learn about the “Dunning-Kruger effect,” with New Eden-based examples.
Let’s establish some common ground first. The “Dunning-Kruger effect” is a term used to describe a cognitive bias in which an individual greatly over estimates their knowledge and/or ability in some domain of life. This may seem a little familiar to some of you, as it is a condition that is rife.
How this over-estimation comes about does make sense. People do stuff and they think they’re great at it. Note: You only get to really spot the “Dunning-Kruger effect” when people are doing things, especially those things which require confidence and desire. Now I would say that people doing things is actually a good thing. But I would question following someone who had already displayed their proclivity to the Dunning-Kruger effect, especially if they are not inclined to learn lessons of the past.
Examples from New Eden
Imagine stating that for many months, during the largest online gaming war to date, you are the most experienced bloc FC in the game. You then light the worst-placed cyno in the history of EVE Online that leads to the largest defeat ever in New Eden. Dunning-Kruger.
Or imagine yourself an S-Tier theory crafter. You could devise the next “big thing” in spaceship meta. With this you introduce the “prop-less Abbadon” which saw some action in the recent Beeitnam War. However, the great new thing proved less than great, even when compared with some of the other disasters fielded by PAPI. Dunning-Kruger.
Perhaps the best example can be seen when someone predicted the outcome of certain complex systems. One could, say, I’ll fix the economy that has had a number of pre-existing problematic issues. But with total confidence they buff the Rorqual into the mightiest of mining ships and also introduce skill injectors. With that “fix” you declare the job done and put aside the concerns of your customers. Dunning-Kruger.
These are only a few to give you a feel for what to look out for. To find more you don’t need to look far, either in New Eden or real life.
Spotting the Difference
It is easy to be misled if you rely too heavily on the “Dunning-Kruger effect” as being the cause of all foolishness you may see. At times it is simply dishonesty wrapped in incompetence.
For instance, imagine that someone knew the plan that they were executing was bad, and were simply deflecting blame for the sake of time. Perhaps they had a business model that they had seen before that they liked, but knew their current player base would not like it as much. Then you could simply bumble about a bit and get the players used to a certain state of the economy. Once that state had normalized, at least in your opinion, then you could throw the player base a carrot or two. The carrots are not carrots but players are told that they are. You could actually tell the player base they are stupid for not recognizing a carrot when they see one.
Luckily for the community of New Eden, we are not completely stupid. So, when we see some state that Jita cannot have more than 4000 players in the system while the in-game chat shows more than 6700, we know something is up. Especially when we, the consumers, are being told that nothing is wrong with the product except that the players are being stupid and irrational. Dunning-Kruger? NO! Plain dishonesty. Either the claims of ‘only 4000’ are false, or there is something wrong with the product.
Just a Bad Day?
Sometimes it can just be a bad day that leads you to making a statement that seems to counter the general consensus. For instance you could read this: “prices will continue to go down as inventories shrink, and supply and demand start catching up.” Upon reading that, you might get the impression that the author knew something about economics. In reality, they got some words mixed up or did not quite present the concept in the right way. Shrinking inventory causes prices to go down? Don’t tell Adam Smith!
But then you may see someone write something like this: “anyone going down to the Jita thing should be fucking ashamed of themselves; its fucking stupid and playing directly into bad changes.” You may well wonder why a player representative would be so scathing and still so cryptic. No reason given for why going to Jita would be stupid. Dunning-Kruger? Decide for yourself.
The key to Dunning-Kruger doesn’t lie in self-confidence, but in misplaced self-confidence. This is something I have seen many times over the years with FCs. There have been many entertaining FCs that lack ability once they get to a certain level. They reach the limits of their experience and/or ability. The trouble is that the scale can become so large that foolhardy action actually becomes damaging.
People need to do some risk assessment and risk mitigation. To take no risks means to do nothing and that is never the right way. So, even if you do think you are inclined to the Dunning-Kruger effect, just plan a bit better and maybe get some decent advice before you speak. Make sure that the steps and objectives you make are well defined. Even better, do things you have practiced and know you can do.
So there we have it. Now off you go into the wilds of New Eden and you can find your own examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Just try not to be the example. You can even tell us your Dunning-Kruger stories in the comments. Nothing like a good story of bravado coupled with ineptitude.