The Dunning-Kruger Effect — or perhaps you have already met?

This particular cartoon makes me laugh. I was recently approached after presenting to an audience of writers hoping to expand their skills into Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) writing by an attendee interested in starting a blog. My thoughts on mentorship and how to obtain one have been covered here but needless to say the struggle is real. After being inundated with calls, I finally had the time to talk with the hopeful would-be HEOR writer. She immediately asked me to hire her or instruct on how to write a blog!? I asked if she had read my blog and the response was “no”. I don’t need to step you through all that is wrong about this scenario but I did think that a few words on creating a blog might be in order.

I do hear from quite a few data&donut followers and typically if they are seeking advice it is always prefaced with a meaningful comment about a specific blog entry or guided informed positive feedback. I evaluate cognitive biases in all surveys I review or create and always recommend Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman as a superb introductory text and conversation about heuristics in behavior — directly applicable to the practice of medicine — specifically medical education. A particularly useful gem is the cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Dunning-Kruger Effect Recent research we have conducted, however, suggests that people are not adept at spotting the limits of their knowledge and expertise. Indeed, in many social and intellectual domains, people are unaware of their incompetence, innocent of their ignorance. Where they lack skill or knowledge, they greatly overestimate their expertise and talent, thinking they are doing just fine when, in fact, they are doing quite poorly.

A few insights that may address a few pain points are listed below. I am new to blogging in the grand scheme of things but I do answer a lot of questions regularly enough that perhaps there are a few more interested readers.

  1. Social listening — what is your network discussing? Identify a niche or a specific need that you are uniquely qualified to address
  2. Avoid analysis paralysis — don’t over-think it. Start small habits that are building toward a big action or business idea
  3. Follow a reliable framework — you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The “skin” of your offering is what will reflect your unique expertise.
  4. Allow your authentic voice to emerge — think about handwriting. The way you write is personal and distinctive to your personality.
  5. If you can move it an inch, you can move it a mile — think scalability

Trust me on sticking around to the end of the little embedded Prezi video. It creates a visual reminder of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is important to be aware of biases in learning any skill such as writing a blog but especially medical education. If we don’t measure “what we don’t know we don’t know” you can easily see how the gap in knowledge will persist. Thoughtful discussions about content development and outcomes analytics that apply the principles and frameworks of health policy and economics to persistent and perplexing health and health care problems

Originally published at