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Specialisation, self-assessment and measuring competency
  1. Chris Whipp
  1. 8 Kings Parade, Soham, Cambridgeshire CB7 5AR
  1. e-mail: christopherwhipp{at}

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I READ with interest the letter from Chris May and Simon Swift (VR, October 1, 2011, vol 169, p 367) which raises some important and interesting issues relating to governance, specialisation, self-assessment and measuring competency. While I would agree that the evidence suggests that humans (not just vets) are generally not naturally very good at self-assessment, I think a broader look at the evidence may lead to rather different conclusions than those drawn.

The Dunning-Krugger effect (illusory superiority/inferiority) reflects a continuum and any population will have individuals placed at many points on the continuum. It was first described within American populations where illusory superiority is more common and this is recognised to be less in European populations, high academic achievers and, I believe, women. My experience suggests a leaning towards illusory incompetence may be the more common …

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