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Letter: Trump and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

(Joshua L. Jones | Athens Banner-Herald via AP) This March 13 photo shows a package of Lysol disinfectant wipes on a shelf at a store in Athens, Ga. Lysol is for toilet bowls and countertops, not human consumption. The company that manufacturers it felt compelled to emphasize the danger of ingesting it after President Donald Trump’s musings about heat, light and disinfectant in the time of coronavirus.

When I heard President Trump asking doctors about disinfectants and UV light, I was horrified, like many others.

What I heard in the media following was disappointing. On the left, guests and pundits assailed the president for "encouraging" people to go inject themselves with bleach. On the right, Trump was given a pass. "That's just who he is." “He was spit-balling."

To be clear, he did not encourage anyone to consume or inject anything. He asked doctors to look into those things as potential cures.

I think many in the media are missing the bigger point, the president's ignorance of science, and in a broader sense, his disdain for expertise.

Most people have enough understanding of science and medicine to know that they don't know much. It's classic "Dunning-Kruger Effect." As you learn more about a particular topic, you realize how much more there is to know, and just how ignorant you are. Children often have ideas they think have never been thought of, but as they grow, they learn.

Trump's "spit-balling" of potential remedies is something we would expect a child to say, however, children are rarely as arrogant as our president.

This was his answer to a reporter's questions about his comments: "I'm not a doctor, I'm a person who has a good you-know-what."

The president is so arrogant, and has such little respect for experts, that he believes he's going to spit-ball an idea that experts worldwide have never considered, and it's going to turn out to be the cure we've all been hoping for. Because he has a good you-know-what.

We've all heard the phrase, "There are no stupid questions." But people are often afraid to ask certain questions because of what those questions can reveal about them.

In this case, our president was not afraid to ask the question, and his question revealed everything.

Michael Smith, Bountiful

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