This ARS Technica article “Could search engines be fostering some *Dunning-Kruger?” is a summary of some research by Asst Prof Adrian Ward out of the University of Texas. People mistake the internet’s knowledge for their own

It’s not about algorithms reinforcing our biases by showing us what it thinks we want to see. It’s about the effect internet searches have on our memory.

It’s a bit convoluted but the idea is that Google search throws up information so fast that when asked to reflect on why they know something the participants thought the knowledge was already in their head rather than something they found in a search. It potentially results in people having an inflated idea of their inherent mental prowess.

On the other hand people who used Wikipedia tended to remember where they got the information from.

From a teaching perspective I’m not too sure what to do with this information. In a school or university setting the effect would be negated by the requirement to make meaning from information e.g. in an assignment, and unsupported pseudo intelligence gets quickly found out when you have to pass a test. But it does present a trap that makes learning harder than it needs to be.

*Dunning-Kruger Effect – “people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability.”

If you liked this post, you might want to look at a previous post on Data Fallacies