The Dunning-Kruger effect is when people don’t see their weak spots because they don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to know they have weak spots. The less a person knows about a subject, the more confident they are in their limited knowledge. The less expertise we have, the more apt we are to be proud of ourselves and confident in our ability. That’s why people who can’t balance their checkbook think they could do a better job running the economy than those who do, with their ‘fancy education’. Years ago, in a job interview, I was asked to rate my skills in an area, on a scale of one to ten. I thought for a moment, and I didn’t want to seem proud, so I said a seven. Then they tested me. I was more of a three. I didn’t get the job, but I did put the first part of Proverbs 29:23 to the test. I wasn’t lying to get the job. I just had no idea how much I didn’t know. Some of the most confident people I’ve ever spoken to about the things of God are people who know very little about the Bible, and some of the most humble believers are people who know a great deal. They know enough to understand the true scope of their understanding.
We are not born (or born again) with a perfect understanding of truth. It takes time, work, prayer, and God’s grace. But it’s not spiritual to remain in ignorance when the mystery is revealed. Ignorance means to be without knowledge. Over and over in the New Testament, the Bible says, “I would not have you be ignorant,” and then proceed to give instruction on a particular doctrine or revelation of a mystery. Yes, there are the secret things that belong to God, but regarding that which is revealed, we shouldn’t be ignorant, especially if the Bible says not to be.
Having a little bit of knowledge brings its own perils. The Thessalonians didn’t have a good understanding of life after death and the resurrection of the body and so they worried about the death of their loved ones. The cure was knowing the truth and taking comfort in God’s promises (1 Thessalonians 4:13). In Romans 11:25, Paul winds up a several chapter section on God’s sovereignty in salvation, leading to a discussion on God’s final plan for the restoration of the people of Israel. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits…” Bible prophecy is important and should be known by God’s people. I’ve heard many preachers downplay these truths and act, rather proudly, that only extremists worry themselves with the prophetic word. There is a good example of how willful ignorance makes a man wise in his own conceits – a man, rather boldly, telling people not to concern themselves with what the Bible tells us to know. They’ll reap the consequences.