National Day of Reason -- Lecture
Thursday, May 02, 2019
06:00pm - 08:00pm
Great River Regional Library (1300 W St Germain St, St Cloud, MN 56301)
"The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Alternative Medicine"Michael J. Shaffer Recently there has been considerable and important discussion of the Dunning-Kruger effect and its impact on rational belief and decision-making, especially in the context of science and medicine. Articulated first in 1999 by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the Dunning-Kruger effect is the idea that the more ignorant a person is, the more confident they are about their beliefs. This is supposed to be the case because such thinkers are so ignorant that they are totally unaware of their ignorance. In other words, the subjects of the Dunning-Kruger effect are so cognitively deficient with respect to some epistemic domain that they cannot even properly understand that they are ignorant about it and, based on this ignorance, they perversely develop unwarrantedly high degrees of confidence with respect to beliefs that constitute that epistemic domain. Of course we are all potentially subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect and it is an effect that is selective. That is to say, that otherwise rational and knowledgeable people may exhibit the Dunning-Kruger effect with respect only to specific epistemic domains. In this talk these matters will be discussed as they pertain to specifically biological ignorance and its impact on beliefs about nutrition and alternative medicine and the levels of confidence many biologically ignorant people exhibit with respect to them. The conclusion drawn here about these phenomena and their explanation then will be used to support a particular point about educational policies concerning health and medicine and patient-centric approaches to medicine. Michael J. Shaffer is currently professor of philosophy at St. Cloud State University. He is also a fellow of the center for formal epistemology at Carnegie-Mellon University, a fellow of the Rotman Institute for Science and Values at the University of Western Ontario, a Lakatos fellow at the London School of Economics, a fellow of the University of Cologne’s summer institute for epistemology and an NEH fellow at the University of Utah. His main areas of research interest are in epistemology, logic and the philosophy of science, and he has published nearly fifty articles on various topics in these areas. He is co-editor of What Place for the A Priori? (Open Court, 2011) and is the author of Counterfactuals and Scientific Realism (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012), Quasi-factive Belief and Knowledge-like States (Lexington, forthcoming) and The Experimental Turn and the Methods of Philosophy (Routledge, forthcoming). He is also currently working on a co-authored book criticizing alternative medicine.