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Dunning Kruger and new divers

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dlofting

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I also think that DK is more applicable to the "intermediates" in any higher risk activity than it is to the newbies. These are the people who actually have the skills and experience to do the activity safely in most situations but unfortunately take that to mean "all situations". This is the OW instructor who knows it all, or the hiker who thinks offtrail is just a rougher extension of the trail...and as you said, the OW diver who decides to do a wreck penetration.

I know you want to discuss how some instructors/courses contribute to this, but I'm not sure that's what happens in most cases, although a certain type of instructor may contribute to a problem that potentially exists in some people.
 

Angelo Farina

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Juts my personal experience.
I was taking big risks not just after beginning, but 3-4 years later, when I was already an assistant instructor and I was thinking to know everything, diving deep with deco and in caverns, without really employing "safe enough" procedures. 40 years later I can see how foolish I had been (and lucky, surviving at least three times to fatal errors).
Of course I was 20 at that time, and this was definitely part of the problem.
At my times, scuba diving could not be started before being 16. And this brings you at the dangerous level of knowledge (good, but not good enough) exactly when you are 20, which is an age where you think to be invincible and immortal.
With my sons, I and my wife did not make the same error.
We introduced them to scuba diving well before going to school, and at 6 years they were both quite confident in the water, but still following very attentively their parents.
At 12 years they were already AOW certified, and when they did reach the "dangerous" age of 16, they had already passed that moment of thinking to "know anything".
So they did never take the risks I and my wife have faced when young.
Now youngsters are allowed to start at 12 years, which is definitely better than beginning at 16, but in my opinion, it would be better to begin around 6, maximum 8 years, as the story of my sons did show,
 

Esprise Me

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The concept of the Dunning-Kruger effect didn't originate in the dive community. Unless there's some evidence that it's more prevalent here than elsewhere, I don't see how the particular economic realities of the industry can be said to have an effect. Driver's ed courses (mostly paid for by the parents) have been trying to scare kids straight for generations with those Red Asphalt videos, but they seem to be no match for that youthful sense of invincibility, especially when it's fueled by testosterone. Before we go around assigning blame for a problem, let's establish with a reasonable degree of certainty that a problem actually exists, and that it is what we think it is.

To expand upon this a little: what exactly do we even mean by the Dunning-Krueger effect in diving? At what point does the average diver enter and leave the "danger zone" of thinking they know more than they do? Immediately post-cert through 50 or 100 dives? Sometime later, maybe starting around 50 or 100 dives and continuing until somewhere between 200 and 500 dives? Or is it just a post-hoc explanation for any diver who dies doing something stupid, at any level of experience? This is why I'm skeptical of the idea.

I'm not saying the hypothesis or the research behind it are bunk, but as applied in these discussions, it has a whiff of pseudoscience to it. Hey, we don't have to live with the gnawing uncertainty over why this person made a fatal mistake; we've got a term for this situation! The problem with that is twofold. One, it has no predictive value if we can't agree on who's vulnerable and who isn't before an accident occurs. Two, if we reach a consensus but we're wrong, it will encourage complacency among those we deem "less vulnerable." Divers die at all skill levels. It's difficult to say what proportion die at each level, and even more difficult to sort out how many died of ignorance or overconfidence, as reasonable people can disagree. (In most cases I think we'd agree that a heart attack is just one of those things that can happen and not evidence of the Dunning-Krueger effect, but I'm sure we could dream up a hypothetical where an out-of-shape diver attempted a strenuous surf entry and long surface swim, where we might say he should've known better.)

Rather than asking, how can we combat the Dunning-Krueger effect, perhaps we should be acknowledging that 1) diving is inherently dangerous and any of us could die from it, 2) all of us are ignorant of something, and although we should seek proper training, we cannot gain complete knowledge of an environment without venturing into it (so, obviously, exposing ourselves to its dangers before we have complete knowledge), and 3) we are all susceptible to overconfidence, which is both the reason we're here in the first place (what rational person gives up the unlimited supply of surface air to venture into such an inhospitable environment in the first place?) and also something that may be the death of us. There is no point where we can afford to let our guard down, and even the most cautious can get it wrong.
 

tursiops

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To expand upon this a little: what exactly do we even mean by the Dunning-Krueger effect in diving? At what point does the average diver enter and leave the "danger zone" of thinking they know more than they do? Immediately post-cert through 50 or 100 dives? Sometime later, maybe starting around 50 or 100 dives and continuing until somewhere between 200 and 500 dives? Or is it just a post-hoc explanation for any diver who dies doing something stupid, at any level of experience? This is why I'm skeptical of the idea.

I'm not saying the hypothesis or the research behind it are bunk, but as applied in these discussions, it has a whiff of pseudoscience to it. Hey, we don't have to live with the gnawing uncertainty over why this person made a fatal mistake; we've got a term for this situation! The problem with that is twofold. One, it has no predictive value if we can't agree on who's vulnerable and who isn't before an accident occurs. Two, if we reach a consensus but we're wrong, it will encourage complacency among those we deem "less vulnerable." Divers die at all skill levels. It's difficult to say what proportion die at each level, and even more difficult to sort out how many died of ignorance or overconfidence, as reasonable people can disagree. (In most cases I think we'd agree that a heart attack is just one of those things that can happen and not evidence of the Dunning-Krueger effect, but I'm sure we could dream up a hypothetical where an out-of-shape diver attempted a strenuous surf entry and long surface swim, where we might say he should've known better.)

Rather than asking, how can we combat the Dunning-Krueger effect, perhaps we should be acknowledging that 1) diving is inherently dangerous and any of us could die from it, 2) all of us are ignorant of something, and although we should seek proper training, we cannot gain complete knowledge of an environment without venturing into it (so, obviously, exposing ourselves to its dangers before we have complete knowledge), and 3) we are all susceptible to overconfidence, which is both the reason we're here in the first place (what rational person gives up the unlimited supply of surface air to venture into such an inhospitable environment in the first place?) and also something that may be the death of us. There is no point where we can afford to let our guard down, and even the most cautious can get it wrong.
LOL. And one of the problems is that many who throw the Dunning-Krueger term around only know enough to do that, and not what it is really all about. Kinda like the famous self-licking ice cream cone.
 

BackAfter30

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LOL. And one of the problems is that many who throw the Dunning-Krueger term around only know enough to do that, and not what it is really all about. Kinda like the famous self-licking ice cream cone.
Definitely. DK has been only poorly applied in this thread.

DK spans the entire range of expertise of a given subject. From the rank novice to the world's top expert. The theory was first demonstrated by giving a written test to a group of subjects - establish their knowledge level; then ask each subject to rate their own performance among the rest of their test group - establish their understanding of their knowledge level. On average, those who are "lightly" knowledged (read scored low) guess that their score ranked higher among the group than actual. Those who scored high guess that their score ranked lower than actual - or at least closer to actual.

All that DK claims to show is that people cannot accurately judge their own ability in a given subject. For novices that means that the are unaware of just how completely ignorant they are; for experts it has been theorized that they know so much, and more importantly, know how much more there is out there that they have never studied, that they expect that there are many who are more knowledgeable than themselves.

DK makes no claims about how an individual will work themselves to an advantageous or disadvantageous position based on their level of expertise.
 

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