Stephen Fry perfectly summed up why Donald Trump is a problem
Appearing on a Pindex video titled “Will Trump’s lies cost lives? Killer cognitive bias”, the British comedian and host explained the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The theory explains that some people with lower abilities feel superior because of cognitive bias, meaning the completely misjudge how much they know.
Fry begins to explain the theory using the example of McArthur Wheeler, who thought lemon juice could make him invisible.
He starts: “When McArthur Wheeler learned that lemon juice was used as invisible ink, he rubbed it on his face and confidently proceeded to rob two banks.
“When the police found him he was shocked,” he added.
The gay 59-year-old goes on to explain why this is relevant to current American politics.
“The case inspired experiments by professors David Dunning and Justin Kruger. They found that the least proficient students dramatically overestimated their own ability. Dunning found that the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence.”
Fry explains that confidence is amplified by “complete ignorance”, which to them feels like knowledge.
Trump is also affected by salience bias, explains Fry. This type of bias stems from focussing on shocking and negative news, rather than the positive.
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They use the example of Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants, and disproves that they are actually dangerous, however this narrative will come at the cost of a $20 billion wall.
This examples, he explained, show the “Dunning-Kruger” effect in full force.
The comedian goes on to explain that when it comes to help people see the truth of Trump’s lies, pointing to facts is not enough.
Fry adds that positivity is much more effective: “FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss notes that a simple smile triggers an automatic response that makes a real difference.
“It’s not a tactic that Trump is known for, and with the media thriving on his insincere style, the decent into doom-mongering seems impossible. But it isn’t, because while we see constant gloom, the real world is getting better and better.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge,” Fry finishes.