I recently came across the Dunning-Kruger effect and I think it is well represented here and we should be aware of it.
Basically, it states (citing wikipedia):
- Unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.
- Those persons to whom a skill or skills come easily may find themselves with weak self-confidence
Which is depicted in this plot found on the web:
This sounds like we are observing this concerning our treatment of unskilled newcomers by hi-reps skilled peoples.
For instance (and I deliberately forge an extreme example here, for illustration purpose)
An unskilled amateur EE comes here and ask about his new fancy project:
Do a 5.1 audio real time processing board
He is able to blink LEDs on his new Arduino. He can play some beeps using a PWM and a buzzer and he knows that some shield exist somewhere that have mic inputs.
He stands on the left or my illustration picture. He is not aware that there are things he doesn't know. For him, this looks not so challenging and he is quite confident that he can make it without too much effort.
Then comes the hi-reps skilled EE. He stands on the middle-right of the picture. He is aware of the complexity of things and he knows that he would never be able to really master anything. Things are too complex. Models always have limits. etc.. He is quite pessimistic, and probably over pessimistic. He also know that the OP is far less skilled than himself.
The result is often:
- This is too broad!
- One would require a entire book just to understand the basic principle of audio processing.
- We should close this question. Answering is a waste of time. the answer would go over your head.
For skilled people, who like to do things the right way, the devil is in the detail. A simple LED blink project often ends up asking:
- Did you use proper decoupling? What is the length of the leads of your capacitors? Unwanted inductance from capacitor leads would decrease the decoupling performances of your power supply.
- Did you compute the thermal dissipation of your linear regulator? Did you take a margin with the ambient temp?
- Are you sure that your linear regulator has enough dropout? Here is the graph of the required dropout according to the current drawn from the regulator.
- I recommend that you use this type of capacitor because the MTBF is far better.
- Using thermal balancing on your footprint would increase the yield of your soldering process by some ppm.
- I recommend using a continuous GND plane, this would be far better for EMC/EMI performance. And I suggest that you refer to the Ott book and read it at least twice before trying to layout your first board.
Well, this guy wanted to blink a LED using a PIC on a breadboard...
This is humorous on purpose. But what is the best answer to the unskilled amateur guy:
Be confident and try to make its LED blink by getting the right level of answer? That way he could have some results. Learn from his mistakes. And then go to something more complex, learn again. etc..
Getting overwhelmed by important, but less significant to him at the moment, information? The guy would be afraid and won't even try something. This is too difficult, it's for the pro
According the the Dunning-Kruger effect, we, skilled EE, will almost always over-estimate the difficulty of a task. And it may not be a good thing to share this pessimistic view with the newcomer. Or at least we should be aware of this to adapt our answers.
It's like during you first day at your EE school your professor said: Do you see all the books on the bookshelf behind me? 240 books (E24 series). I read all of them and I have been teaching electronics for 15 years. I am still not mastering everything...
Here you go back and think: Wow this looks difficult! I think I'm gonna choose theoretical physics instead...