The Day I discovered the “Dunning-Kruger Effect”

When you start being a member of the work force and a productive member of the society you will start dealing with coworkers from different levels with different mentalities. I remember before started working, I learned throughout college and teachings from my father techniques on how to deal with different people. It is essential that you realize how to coop with people in order to survive. Regardless of how many negative and narrow thinking people out there, sometimes you will be forced to work with such people and if you can’t handle these kinds of people, you’ll perform poorly and ultimately fail. Well, during my experience in the work force, I have come across different kind of people with different mentalities. I have seen good people who are willing to teach you and improve you, people who are acceptable & welcoming to fresh ideas, visionaries, and glowing with positivity as you meet them. On the other hand, I have met close minded, arrogant, not willing to pass any knowledge, rude, and incompetent that you just can’t stand being with. Some of these negative people that I met were actually in managerial positions! This was confusing to me at first as I grew up thinking that people are only evaluated and elevated in the ladder of success based on competency and interpersonal skills. Therefore, I was shocked when I had a manager who couldn’t finish his training when he joined and all of a sudden he was our section’s head. I had to endure the suffering of explaining things to my manager who have lack of simple common sense, logic, engineering logic, technical background, and interrelation skills. He was so jealous of my success story in the company that he made it his mission to tarnish my reputation. This was basically done by assigning impossible tasks to me, excluding me from tasks that are challenging while knowing I’ll excel in, placing me in nightshifts in jobs that are in lower levels as if he was demoting me, and give out negative feedback to the management board whenever there was a meeting or chance he got. To me, it was depressing at first, however, I made it my mission to excel in any task given to me and always be positive and treat him back in a good way. No matter how hard he tried, the better my reputation has become. I felt sorry for him, the reason is that this kind of behavior looked to me like it is a psychological syndrome of some sort and thought to myself that “hey you know what, maybe there is a syndrome or something in management studies that can justify this kind of behavior?”.

I started googling the management skills website and references and I came across this term “Dunning–Kruger effect”. When I read the definition, I just laughed hysterically because in fact this syndrome is actually scientifically proven and perfectly describes my manager at that time. The definition as extracted from Wikipedia is as follows:

“The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals 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.[1]

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others”.[2]

Once I stopped my hysterical laughter, I took this information to my Mentor and My brother from another Mother (a true friend in this sinful, unjust, and dishonest world where good people are rare) who was a senior engineer at the time with great experience and suffering as I did from the manager. When I told him and showed him the definition, he started laughing, as expected, hysterically. He told me, “How did it even cross your mind to look for such information?” I told him, “I felt sorry for him and just thought maybe it is indeed a psychological illness!”. From that day on, whenever we see someone incompetent and hide his incompetency by being rude, arrogant…etc we just look at each other and simultaneously say Dunning-Kruger!


Anyways, now you have it folks. Whenever you find a manager who stepped up the managerial ladder due to being a good brown noser, placed in the position because he is dumb and can be controlled from managers above him, or whatever reason there might be and you find him exhibiting such symptoms, yell out Dunning-Kruger and pray for them because these people are mentally ill. Just try to get to know what sets him off, how to make him trust you, and if all is not working like it didn’t for me, move on to a different challenge and different experience. There is no reason for you to stay in an unhealthy work environment when there are plenty environments equally important and challenging out there in the world.Image


To my mentor, Mr. Naeim, N.A.N just like the way he likes to be called


2 thoughts on “The Day I discovered the “Dunning-Kruger Effect”

  1. Pingback: CRITICAL THINKING: “Ignorance Begets Confidence: The Dunning-Kruger Effect” | Always Question Authority

  2. Pingback: CRITICAL THINKING: “John Cleese on Stupidity: The Dunning-Kruger Effect” | Always Question Authority

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