I have many good, smart, capable friends right now who are looking for work, and finding nothing. Other friends who, like myself, are self-employed, are having trouble lining up new clients and customers and we're finding our businesses faltering. And now I know who to blame: Stupid People.
Over the long weekend I read an article that introduced me to the "Dunning-Kruger Effect," a cognitive bias in which an ignorant person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their own incompetence prevents them from realizing how wrong they are. Basically, "ignorance begets confidence."
The opposite is also true: Those who are truly skilled or knowledgeable in any given area, knowing enough to know that they can't know everything, will tend to be more modest about their abilities compared to the bombast of the dullard.
The article I was reading was talking about the Dunning-Kruger Effect in relation to politics, and certain pundits who prey on the ignorance of their followers for political gain. But in thinking about the article, I realized it applies to all sorts of situations, including employment.
Who stands out during job interviews? Who does the recruiter remember? Is it the guy who calmly and honestly says, "I believe I can do it, and if there's anything else I need to learn, I'll do my best to learn it." Or is it the guy who proudly boasts, "I'm the best! I could have written the book on how to do this job!"
Nine times out of ten, it's the second guy, the self-deluded moron, who gets hired, and through the same process gets promoted over the years, over all the truly competent co-workers. And now, they're the ones at the top, screwing up the entire economy.
So, if you're looking for work right now, and you're lucky enough to get a job interview, and the interviewer asks you, "Why have you been out of work for so long?" Look that son-of-a-bitch right in the eye and with all the confidence you can muster say, "Because of stupid bastards like you!"
You may not get the job, but at least you'll know why.
(NOTE: Some might ask, isn't this really just another way of describing the Peter Principle? Not quite... The Peter Principle explains how, should a competent person be lucky enough to get a job, he or she will be promoted to their level of incompetence. The Dunning-Kruger Effect explains why the competent person probably won't even be hired in the first place.)