David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois published “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [vol. 77, no. 6, pp. 1121-34.]

The paper describes what is now referred to as the Dunning–Kruger effect as a cognitive bias in which the unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. Tend to overestimate their own level of skill
  2. Fail to recognize genuine skill in others
  3. Fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy

Gun owners suffer from this routinely.