Nov 11 2010

A Poster Boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Many people are not familiar with the term Dunning-Kruger Effect. The linked Wikipedia article begins with a very good description:

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

While the effect covers self-evaluation that either overrates or underrates, the term seems to be used more often to describe situations in which people very much overrate their own intelligence and abilities.

One person who seems to me the epitome of illusory superiority is Joe Cienkowski. I say this because I think the man honestly believes that his intelligence and analytic powers are greater than most of the greatest scientists of our time. Joe is not the only young earth creationist who thinks and feels this way, but he expresses it so frequently!

Joe Cienkowski and I actually have a lot in common. He and I were both born in 1965. Joe’s father died when Joe was just sixteen years old. My own father died when I was seventeen. Joe thinks the Universe is about six thousand years old. I think Joe is a woefully ignorant, misinformed, ill-educated person.

Joe Cienkowski has written a few books. Joe’s web page describing his book, Atheism Is A Religion provides some examples of his ability to use complicated logic and his amazing command of the written word, as well as presenting his web design abilities. [Joe uses his hosting company’s do-it-yourself web templates for his site. Joe probably also thinks his web design abilities are better than that of any experts in the field, while the truth is far from that. Let’s just say that he shouldn’t quit his day job. Then again; if Joe’s day job is writing books like Atheism Is A Religion and Grand Reality, a change in occupation might be warranted.]

On the home page of Joe’s site, the blurb for Atheism Is A Religion has this to say:

Atheism Is A Religion

Evolution is their ‘creation’

Author Joe Cienkowski reveals atheism is a religion, and not ‘no belief’ or lack of belief. Yes, they have gods, a creation story, tenets, adherents, devotion and even ‘churches’.

Atheism is the fastest growing religion in America.and taught in institutions today. Many are as zealous for their religion as any other

See 20 specific beliefs that must be accepted if there is no God. Plus the 10 commandments based on current worldviews.

I don’t intend to tear apart Joe’s book in this blog post. [I’d like to do that on some other occasion.] I simply want to use some of this information to point out some things that support my idea for Joe being the poster boy for the Dunning–Kruger effect.

Let’s look at some of this information:

…reveals atheism is a religion, and not ‘no belief’ or lack of belief.

Double Facepalm - For when one facepalm doesn't cut it.

The only thing that Joe is revealing is his ignorance. I’m sorry, Joe. Atheism is not a religion. It is the absence of the belief in a deity or deities.

…they have gods, a creation story, tenets, adherents, devotion and even ‘churches’.

Atheism is by definition the lack of belief in a deity or deities. How could an atheist have a god?

The following is from Joe’s web page for that specific book:

Atheism is a Religion

You’ll see atheism in a new light. Also, why Dennis Miller declared on Bill O’Reilly ‘atheism is a lachrymose religion’. And, why Michael Newdow said “I don’t want people interfering with my religion

The author demonstrates atheists are not merely an unbiased, unprejudiced persons with no belief but by defintion they are just as zealous for their ‘faith’

See the natural flowing belief system associated with atheism. Plus, the real reason atheists reject God; none of them scientific

See for 100% sure the world is thousands of years old! How could everyone have overlooked this

Atheism is a Religion may be a principal character of opposition. However, it’s purposefully and vigorously written with caring intent.

contains the 10 commandments of atheism

Statements by Miller and Newdow do nothing to change what atheism is or is not.

Why does Joe keep adding stuff that doesn’t belong? Where is it said in the definition of atheism that atheists are unbiased and unprejudiced?

Please, Joe, reveal to us the hidden wisdom of why atheists reject god! Simply by using the word ‘reject,’ Joe is starting off on the wrong foot. How can I reject something that I do not believe exists? I don’t reject your god, Joe. I don’t believe in it, either. As to why; I’m pretty certain that you would get a wide variety of reasons from atheists if you actually asked them instead of making shit up.

The world is thousands of years old. You can express it in thousands of years, but I find it much easier to say that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Yes, folks; Joe is a Young Earth Creationist. He believes that the Christian Bible is a historically accurate, factually inerrant record of natural history. He thinks it’s a science textbook.

Atheist cat finds your prayer cute, but ultimately futile.

I find it sort of quaint that Joe is tenaciously hanging on to ideas that haven’t been taken seriously for over 150 years, but what exactly does the age of our planet have to do with atheism? What does it have to do with Joe’s omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient god?

I've seen you masturbate, and... you're good.

God is watching you!

I’m also very anxious to find out what “the 10 commandments of atheism” might be. Don’t you think I should know them, since I am an atheist? Have I not been invited to the proper rituals? Have I missed out on a large part of atheistic indoctrination? Why am I so unfamiliar with atheistic dogma? Oh… I get it. Argumentum ad rectum. Joe’s pulling stuff out of his ass again.

The errors in these and other ideas that Joe professes have been pointed out to him on numerous occasions, frequently with a great deal of supporting evidence.
What does Joe think of evidence? If it doesn’t support what he already believes, then it’s wrong. If it contradicts his interpretation of the Christian Bible, then it’s wrong.

That’s why Joe gets my nomination to be the Poster Boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect.


1 ping

  1. khan

    I’ve been noticing him on twitter and you’re absolutely correct.

  2. Jason Thibeault

    Peaches is unworthy of our, or anyone else’s, attention.

    One comment I can make though: I believe the correct Latin is “argumentum ex ano”.

    Oh, and another thing — I love Christopher Walken.

    1. Dan Johnson

      I struggled a bit over which term to use for the logical fallacy of “pulling it out of one’s ass.” Argumentum ex ano seems quite well suited for it.

      The etymology of rectum takes us back to the 1540s, where intestinum rectum means “straight intestine.” It was a loan-translation of Greek apeuthysmeon enteron, “the name given to the lowest part of the large intestine by Galen, who so called it because he dissected only animals whose rectum (in contradistinction to that of man) is really straight” [Klein].

      Anus, on the other hand, comes from the 1650s, and is based on the Latin anus, meaning “ring, anus,” from Proto-Indo European base ano-, meaning “ring.”

      I might have to do a little more research to see if there are any other terms that might be of use in similar circumstances.

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