Liam Farrell: The time of the buffoon has come

Joe is a member of the Dunning Kruger club. The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is, and unable to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately; i.e you're so stupid you don't know how stupid you are.

'I need antibiotics, I’ve an awful sore throat,' said Joe. A regular request, but delivered in what I noticed was an unusually triumphalist tone.

Because I am sometimes A Good Doctor, I examined Joe’s throat yet again (I could find my way around it in the dark). As usual it was clean as water imported from the rainforest with dolphins in it.

'It’s probably a virus…' I began.

'I need antibiotics,' he insisted.

'Expert advice suggest that antibiotics are unnecessary in these cases,' I said.

'The British people are tired of listening to experts,' said Joe.

'So you’re British now,' I said. 'But last month when Ireland beat Italy you were running down the street with the green flag wrapped around you.'

'Irish, British, whatever,' he said airily. 'I want my country back.'

'More specifically, I want my border back,' and then, in a far-away voice, full of yearning and nostalgia for times that will never come again: 'Smuggling diesel, cigarettes, videos, my old Transit van was like a brother to me; those were the days, my friend. The Brexit campaign appealed to the dragons of xenophobia, and they appeared on all sides, including people like me.'

'There was a time,' I said sadly, 'when we aspired to intelligence, we weren’t afraid of it.'

'You’re yesterday’s man, doc,' he said. 'Get with the zeitgeist. This is the era of Boris, of The Donald; the time of buffoon politics has come. Buffoons get the press coverage, the name recognition, reality and surreality become blurred. Rational debate becomes impossible, because debating with nonsense only lends it credibility, so even the most outrageous claims go unchallenged. £350m ploughed into the NHS every week, stick it on the side of a bus; what kind idiot would fall for that?"

The first rule of the Dunning Kruger club is that you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning Kruger club.

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell

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