Science Says Using YouTube and Google the Wrong Way Leads to Extreme Overconfidence (and the Illusion of Explanatory Depth)

Science Says Using Youtube And Google The Wrong Way Leads To Extreme Overconfidence (And The Illusion Of Explanatory Depth) - Gettyimages 1006512014 516103

I’ve learned to do a lot of things by watching YouTube videos. Wire a four-way circuit. Replace the control board on a clothes dryer. Create complicated (at least to me) spreadsheet pivot tables.

Granted, “learned” is an overstatement. I had a basic sense of what to do. Most of what I learned actually came from doing, and struggling, and eventually figuring out – not from watching.

Even though I went into those tasks, and plenty more, extremely confident that they would be a breeze.

Turns out I’m not alone. 

A study published last year in Royal Society Open Science found that people who watched a three-minute video showing a pilot landing a plane were 30 percent more confident that they could land a plane in an emergency than those who did not – even though the video never even showed the pilot’s hands.


One possibility involves what social psychologists call “overclaiming,” or claiming to know or be able to do things you can’t. Most of us overclaim at least…

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This article was written by Jeff Haden and originally published on