Dunning-Kruger: A Horror Story

Once you learn about the Dunning-Kruger effect, it’s easy to become paralysed by self-doubt. The effect, as you probably know, is described by a curve where experience runs along the horizontal axis and competence on the vertical. It looks like this…

What does this tell us? It tells us that when people start out on any new venture, they usually exhibit that ego-fuelled bias that makes them think they’re much better at what they’re doing than they probably are. We all do it in all walks of life, though Twitter is really the best testbed for observing the phenomenon. During this public health emergency, for example, it’s been sobering to watch the number of laypeople explaining to public health experts … Read the rest


I had a piece I was going to finish for today about Marvel’s Avengers and the NHS but I think I’ll leave that for another time or perhaps no time at all. My morning was taken up with writing a piece about Professor Trump’s lecture on the medicinal benefits of bleach and I have lots of things I intend to do with the rest of my day. I also wanted to write about Twitter and coming back to blogging after all these years.

I think it was a mistake.

Did I really expect much traffic? Well, I hoped for a little. Ten to twenty visitors a day might have felt like a reasonable return for my efforts. I thought I … Read the rest

Toby, George & Apple

Happy St George’s Day!

And to mark the occasion, here’s a bit about another national hero, facing down a fierce dragon…

Toby Young now claims to have caught the coronavirus. He also claims to have beaten it. In his latest piece [gestures vaguely towards places on the internet I don’t frequent], he describes how he self-diagnosed and then self-medicated, taking Trump’s favourite drug, hydroxychloroquine. He claims the illness took him to the edge of a “cliff” and his sympathies are now with those suffering even worse than he did.

Just to confirm: this is the very same Toby Young who was so cavalier with mortality projections just a few weeks ago. That’s when he led the charge of right-wingers, anti-vaxxers, … Read the rest

Virus Dreams

I don’t have a shrink. I have a blog. Times are hard. It will have to do…

I’ve noticed that I’m dreaming more than normal, which is odd given how I’m also drinking too much caffeine. I should really be awake half the night. I also know that dreaming is usually a good indicator of my creativity (I’ve searched for research on this phenomenon but never found any). If I dream, I can work. If I sleep poorly and don’t dream, my brain is mush the next day and I can never think of a thing to write or draw.

Perhaps it’s because I’m more exhausted. Despite the lockdown – or, rather, I suppose, because of the lockdown – I’m … Read the rest

Trump Meme

There’s a laughable right-wing meme by the cartoonist Ben Garrison out there which depicts a muscled Trump covered in words and phrases such as “liberty” and “freedom”, whilst bullets representing “Islam”, “FBI” and “gay agenda” bounce off him. This is my slightly more realistic version.

Competence and its conspicuous absence

A new week and I’m just off the back of too many hours crosshatching a cartoon that’s really not worth the effort. During the tedious time it takes do fill a space with horizontal, vertical and two kinds of diagonal lines, my mind strayed to thinking about competence. Specifically, I suppose, I got to thinking about my own incompetence and the competence of others.

The simple fact is that I’m constantly staggered by the genius of people. I don’t mean the people who are known to be geniuses – though, saying that, I’m staggered by the unqualified brilliance of Fiona Apple’s new album – but the ordinary people who are so very good at the things they do. Now, of … Read the rest

A Sunday Ramble

A quick ramble through the Sunday verbiage and it turns out that curse about “living in interesting times” really was a curse, after all. Really, where do we begin to catalogue this ruby-veined tumescence of abject incompetence? We really need a new lexicon of words to properly convey the scale of these various crises. Words such as…


According to The Sunday Times, the country missed numerous chances to lessen the impact of the coronavirus because Boris Johnson was busy doing exactly what we expected of Boris Johnson, which means doing the bare-arsed minimum.

No doubt there will be arguments about when it’s right for a Prime Minister to attend Cobra meetings and how delegation works inside a cabinet-led … Read the rest