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Dunning-Kruger effect. And it's relation to religion and theistic belief?


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I’m inclined to agree with @LogicalFallacyin questioning whether the D-K effect really applies to apologists.  It’s not so much that apologists don’t know enough but rather that they are typically starting with a belief that Christianity or theism is true and then coming up with supporting arguments.  They very likely did not come to believe because of apologetic arguments but rather because of youthful indoctrination or a strong desire to believe.  It’s been said that apologetics are not used to make believers out of non-believers but rather to keep existing believers from leaving the faith.  I’m not saying people never become theists or Christians because of apologetics but it’s not common.  
 

As a Christian I had some interest in apologetics but I made the “mistake” of starting to listen to counter-apologetics as well.  In the absence of a strong emotional attachment to Christianity - either positive or negative - doing that tends to lead sooner or later to agnostic atheism.  I “know” less now than I did as a Christian, but being without the mental barriers erected by religious “knowledge” is maybe the best thing about being an apostate for me. 
 

But back to the D-K effect, which does apply to knowledge in general, as opposed to religious faith.  When I was a pilot-in-training I learned that most crashes happen to pilots in a certain experience range.  Not the rookies with less than say 120 hours logged.  Not the seasoned pros with thousands of hours, but rather the guys at the peak of your chart, who’ve flown enough to start feeling invulnerable.  
 

 

 

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23 hours ago, TABA said:

I’m inclined to agree with @LogicalFallacyin questioning whether the D-K effect really applies to apologists.  It’s not so much that apologists don’t know enough but rather that they are typically starting with a belief that Christianity or theism is true and then coming up with supporting arguments.  They very likely did not come to believe because of apologetic arguments but rather because of youthful indoctrination or a strong desire to believe.  It’s been said that apologetics are not used to make believers out of non-believers but rather to keep existing believers from leaving the faith.  I’m not saying people never become theists or Christians because of apologetics but it’s not common.  

 

What I mean is that they think that they "know" god exists. You'll notice that the chart begins with, "Huh." Total ignorance.

 

That applies to all of us who were born into christianity, like myself and others. We didn't know anything about it. Ground level ignorance. But as we matured as children we were lead towards the second point in the chart, which is the spike in question. We attended church and church school, some of us. We were told that our denominations were superior that of others. We believed what they were telling us. I was always told that we as adventist's had superior knowledge of the bible and how to interpret the bible beyond any other group or christian denomination. Keeping in lock step with the D-K effect chart. Born ignorance straight to an illusion of highly level or absolute knowledge of the bible and of god (per the beginning of the chart). 

 

That's one thing that caught my attention as I was going through the D-K effect chart. There's a lot of knowledge perception involved in faith issues. Especially when we turn to those who were not born into christianity, but who were proselytized along the way as older children, teens, or adults. People are selling god and / or some particular faith or denomination. By way of trying to convince people of the truth of their particular message. And people often seem to assume that the salesmen are correct in their assertions, accept those assertions, and then carry on thinking in their own minds that the assertions are correct and true - assertions which involve the claim that a particular group has a corner on the "correct" interpretation of bible and in terms of being favored by a god. 

 

It all seems to chart very well against the D-K effect from beginning to end. Because whether born into christianity or proselytized along the way, the starting point is a lack of comprehensive knowledge about christianity. Which then heads towards the apex spike of perceived knowledge. And then the potential to follow along in lock step from each given point until finally reaching the well informed type of agnostic climax at the end of the chart. 

 

dunning-kruger-effect-agile-coffee-web.j

 

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I do see what you’re saying Josh, and there’s a lot of overlap.  I just think the DK effect is taking more about acquired knowledge, and religious believers at the left end of the chart have not acquired conventional knowledge (like me when I was a low-time pilot) so much as been indoctrinated - like you and I were as children - or been driven by emotion, as I was when I was baptized at the age of 29.   For us apostates, the confidence declined when we started applying knowledge for the first time really.  That happened to you when you were old enough to think for yourself.  With me, it took a lot longer.
 

But I’m probably being a bit nit-picky here.  There’s a lot in common between the chart and our experiences as ex-Christians. 

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From [Huh?] to [I know everything] on that progression is in my opinion, the point at which humans begin to see what they believe.

 

In my experience, the space between those two is so small that it's invisible.

 

I've certainly fallen into the pit of self-deception explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect. Not once, but many times.

 

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When I started reading through apologetic books and cross referencing with textual critic and folks like Bart Ehrman, I felt the weight of there being more to it than I thought, and some despair at points along the line of, “I’m never going to understand this.” So much information.  
 

Too much to take in from so many different fields of knowledge. But I’d just take breaks and then get back to it. After so long it gets to be redundant. There’s only so many ways of arguing these issues. The existence of god or the historicity of Jesus. 
 

They have to land uncertain and agnostic without absolute evidence to the contrary that establishes absolute certainty. The chart can lead nowhere else. It’s always complicated in the end. 

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