Donald Trump: The Dunning-Kruger President

by Pitt Griffin on December 18, 2016 · 0 comments

in Election 2016

The Chinese stole an underwater drone right in front of a US Navy ship, in the South China Sea. Claims to sovereignty over this body of water are many and contentious. Through it moves one-third of the world’s freight. The Chinese are solidifying their domination with a string of man-made islands bristling with weapons. It is obvious that the situation is complicated. On America’s part, it requires a sophisticated blend of diplomacy, negotiation, and the threat of force.

President-elect, Donald Trump, reacted with a tweet:


It’s embarrassing. He can’t even spell ‘unprecedented’ correctly. And how does he think the Chinese will react? You can hear the laughter spilling from the National People’s Congress.

The man is unequipped by ability, temperament, education, intelligence, or management skills to be President. He is too lazy to take intelligence briefings. He doesn’t have that the attention span to understand the issues. He can’t identify talented people to be his subordinates. In short, he is the poster child for the Dunning–Kruger effect.


Two psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, had noted that low-ability individuals seemed to overrate their talents. They were inspired by a bank robber, McArthur Wheeler. This mentally challenged individual ‘reasoned’ that if he covered his face in lemon juice, he would be unrecognizable on surveillance video – because lemon juice is a constituent of invisible ink.

Further studies confirmed that the cognitive bias of stupid people is real. Simply put, there are people too dumb to know they are dumb. Often, if they receive a little instruction, these people quickly realize the limits of their knowledge.

On the other hand, if the low-ability person is so convinced of his superiority, he may well resist any breach of the walls he has built around his ignorance. And I have just described Donald Trump.

Trump apologists claim that he must be smart because he has built a billion dollar business empire. But there are several strikes against that notion. Many business experts point out that if he had just invested his inherited fortune and reinvested the dividends, he would be worth far more than he is now.

Also, we don’t know how much Trump’s business is worth; although we do know that it is far more leveraged than others in the field.

Further, Trump has the facile skills of a superior conman. He can flatter, cajole, threaten and charm his way through life. Look at Bernie Madow. He did just fine with a clever patter. Trump’s road to wealth is paved with theft. The Atlantic City subcontractors are just a few of the many people he has stolen from with threats of lawsuits.

The Trump University victims were quite simply fleeced. Do you disagree? Then ask yourself this. If Trump U had been such a good business, why did it close its doors? And what of all the other Trump-branded detritus in his wake?

Trump’s favorite insult is to call other people stupid. He loves to crow about his smarts. But truly intelligent people don’t boast. Their deeds speak for them. They also listen to the knowledgeable. And they read – voraciously. Trump famously doesn’t listen to experts. In fact, he believes he is smarter than they are. And he has publicly said that he doesn’t read anything – except for his press clippings.

Take the Russian interference in the election. The intelligence community says it’s real, and that Putin ordered it. Trump denies it. Then claims he knows this because we didn’t hear anything about it before his election. Except that, from Obama on down, the warnings of Russian interference started in October.

It is no coincidence that the less educated the voter, the more likely he was to support Trump. It seems that just as the dumb can’t judge their own ability; they are also unable to judge other people’s. Which would also explain Trump’s cabinet picks.





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