The Peak of Mount Stupid

It’s easy to get too overconfident in your enthusiasm when you learn something new.

Patrick Heller
2 min readMay 15


In 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger described what has become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — the cognitive bias in which people highly overestimate their ability in some area of expertise.

You learn of a field of expertise that is relatively new to you and you dive right in because you’re super interested in it.

You learn the basics, but you know not enough about the topic to be able to judge that it’s just the basics you’ve learned, and instead, you think of yourself as quite the expert in this field.

It isn’t until a real expert points it out to you, or when you yourself truly learn more about the topic, that you can have an honest look at your own expertise and realize that you still have so much more to learn.

Your confidence in your knowledge on the topic will drop to an all-time low, to the valley of despair.

If you persevere in the learning and allow your expertise to grow, your confidence will gradually grow with it again — you will find yourself on the slope of enlightenment.

Your confidence will never reach the top levels it had when you thought you knew it all, but you will eventually reach the plateau of sustainability.

Dunning and Kruger called the top level of overconfidence in combination with utter incompetence the Peak of Mount Stupid.

The graph below shows the relationship between the growing level of expertise and the evolving level of confidence that goes with it.

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Patrick Heller

Agile Coach ★ Author ★ Speaker