Why incompetent people think they’re amazing, and why we think that’s interesting

TED-Ed recently released a video on The Dunning-Kruger effect, which according to them, is when people are unable to recognize their intellectual and social shortcomings because they lack the expertise necessary to see them. In other words, what you don’t know, you don’t. As a result, people often overate themselves and their talents, but not necessarily because they have a big ego.

So, it got us thinking. And researching. And reminiscing about all those times, Simon Cowell burst those contestants’ dreams. And we ended up stumbling on a few hilarious examples of people innocently falling into this trap.

Ever watch Jimmy Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News” episodes?


His crew asks people on the street whether they know about something that, in reality, is a false premise. Usually, the most confident interviewees appear to genuinely recall a memory and give answers that seem reasonable because of their conviction. And it’s important to note; we found no evidence of ego here.

Here is someone describing his take on a fictional fashion designer’s collection at NYFW.


Here’s someone else commenting on Landon Donovan’s most shocking play at the World Cup. (He got cut before it started).


As evident in these videos, our brains naturally fill in the gaps, take shortcuts, and jump to conclusions to supplement our lack of knowledge. It’s an important survival skill that helps us, against all the odds, willingly take risks and feel okay with not knowing what we’re doing. The old “fake it till you make it” strategy. There can even be a benefit to not knowing exactly how incompetent you are, a situation called bliss. Most of us would agree that we’d rather not find out what everyone really thinks of us.

But when it comes to personal finance, being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t is incredibly important. Because it can lead to asking questions that are genuinely helpful to you and getting answers you’ll need in the near future. (Bonus: you may even find you know more than you thought about a particular subject). Knowing where your abilities lie can also benefit your inner circle by getting everyone on the same page.

Just remember that sometimes the limit does exist.


In conclusion: you got this.


Written by Cara Lau for Stnce.We make taking financial ownership approachable and relatable.