Why Dunning Kruger Effect Matters

Why Dunning Kruger Effect Matters

“Dunning Kruger have proved what the world always knew.” I pointed to the Wikipedia page on Dunning Kruger effect on my laptop. Lulu, my parrot, moved closer and hopped on to it.

“What’s that?”

“They remind me of my time at IIM-Ahmedabad where I was sent to attend a training program on Industrial Relations. Having spent good time in that field, I thought that I knew everything about it.”


Lulu, my parrot

“Two lectures, one by Prof NR Seth and the other by Prof Pradip Khandwala made me realize where I stood. Both spoke for ninety minutes holding me spell bound with their insights.”

“I can see that you felt bad realizing that your so-called ‘expertise’ was no expertise at all. Good wake-up call. What did it do to you?”

“I realized that I was a ‘nobody’ before them. And also, that there must have been many people who were more knowledgeable and skilled than me. It was a big fall for me.”


“It made me study, update my knowledge and skills regularly, and accept feedback with a ‘beggar’s bowl’.”

“I asked you about Dunning Kruger and you are giving me your life stories.”

“Oh yes. Dunning Kruger carried out research and concluded that ‘people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.’”

“Must you make things complicated?”

“Said simply, it means that people with little competence or knowledge feel that they are experts, ‘God’s gift to the mankind’, and there is nothing more to learn. They, kind of, feel that they have ‘arrived.’”

“I see what you mean. That’s what had happened to you, right?”


“Anybody who speaks on politics suffers Dunning Kruger effect, what say you?”

“You got it right. Let me read out this from Encyclopedia Britannica to you – ‘a study published in 2018 indicated that Americans who know relatively little about politics and government are more likely than other Americans to overestimate their knowledge of those topics. Moreover, according to the study, that tendency seems to be more pronounced in partisan contexts in which people consciously think of themselves as supporters of one or the other (Republican or Democratic) major political party.’ Isn’t that true for Indians?”

“Man! Are you referring to Uddhav Thackeray?”


“Sanjay Raut?”

“You decide.”

“Jitendra Awhad?”

“I withhold my opinion”

“Okay, I get your point. Why, even cricket fans pass judgments as if they know more than Gavaskar and Sachin. Cricket fans have an opinion on the recent failure of Mumbai Indians who lost eight matches consecutively – and they also prescribe a remedy.”

“That reminds me the Dunning Kruger Effect plays havoc when it raises its head in the healthcare sector. From wrong diagnosis to wrong treatment anything can happen. And in the corporate world if the boss shows the Dunning Kruger effect, you had it!”

“I understand what you say. The remedy is to ‘listen’ to people, not to ‘hear’ them. It requires open mind. Seeking feedback, inviting new ideas for doing any work and examining them without ‘I have done this before and I know it doesn’t work’ mindset. Standing back and taking a bystander’s view, reflecting, in other words, on the day’s events.”

“You said it, ‘Metacognition’ as they call it.”

“Call it by any name, the question is do you do it regularly? Does it build quiet confidence and humility? If yes, you are on the right track. Do you get me?” Lulu moved from my laptop, fluttered his wings and sat on my shoulder.

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’