Researchers from Yale University released the results of a study which discovered that anti-vaxxers do not believe the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to them. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias where unskilled individuals tend to suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.
In the study, 2,359 parents were culled from the donor list of the National Vaccine Center of Information, an anti-vaccine group. Subjects were asked a series of questions on their attitudes and general knowledge about vaccines. They were then shown the following explanation of the Dunning–Kruger effect:
“Incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”
In the main part of the study, subjects were asked to rate whether they felt the explanation applied to them. According to the lead study investigator, Dr. Allison Ditz, “We were completely unstunned. The results blew absolutely no one away. Only 1% of the anti-vaxxers felt that the Dunning–Kruger effect applied to them in the slightest. This is despite the fact no one scored higher than a 58% on our vaccine quiz and none were able to explain the difference between a T and B lymphocyte.”
Instead, 98% of the subjects rated their knowledge of vaccines as “extremely, highly superior” and felt the Dunning–Kruger effect best applied to vaccine advocates such as Dr. Paul Offit as well as everyone at the CDC, FDA, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and anyone who works for a pharmaceutical company.
In a follow-up study of 1,419 of the original study subjects, 97% of them explained their original responses by saying “I did my own research.”