I was watching a World Bank presentation on cash transfers the other day and came across a pretty funny cartoon about Mount Stupid. This curve partially describes the Dunning-Kruger effect, and I think it’s an important concept to keep in mind when starting a blog.
I’m curious about a number of topics including economics, public health, and life sciences research. Unfortunately, I don’t have much academic expertise in any of these fields, and there aren’t enough hours in a day to keep up with the most recent developments.
When faced with these limitations, one can either (a) choose a subject, become an expert, and stick to this topic, or (b) build a more shallow understanding of a variety of subjects and risk ending up on Mt. Stupid. I have generally chosen route (a) in life, but I still feel my curiosity pulling me towards route (b) regularly. So when I speculate beyond my areas of expertise, I will generally follow these rules:
- Write with humility — I will try to be aware and honest about what I don’t know.
- Justify my stances with quality evidence
- Draw from a broad variety of sources, and try to summarize their views fairly
- Rely on the judgement of experts when I’m out of my depth
If I break these rules, call me out in the comments!
I don’t want to go too overboard with rules - this is a blog after all. A person has to risk embarrassment in order to come up with new ideas, and making mistakes is part of the learning process. In the end, then, I think having the restraint of these rules will help flatten Mt. Stupid, making for more of a gradual ascent to knowledge.