“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” (Charles Darwin)
We all have that one friend or cousin who talks at length about any topic trying to establish that he knows all about almost everything. The confidence with which he/she speaks can make anyone a fool to establish that he/she is a great scholar- a renaissance man, until we google what he/she says and to our wonder find how uninformed he/she is. This is the Dunning-Kruger Effect’. When you do not know how little you know about a subject but overestimate the exegesis of things around you. When you oversimplify the problems and find a solution right away. As a result, individuals who are confident in their abilities are not the ones who should be.
This psychological phenomenon was discovered by two scientists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger in the year 1999. They carried out research, ‘Unskilled and Unaware of it’ in which they put to test a group of people on grammar, humor, and logic. They tasked a bunch of people to write jokes that they think would be funny and found that the people who proclaimed to have good humor had done the worst. Dunning and Kruger then put the same people for grammar and logic tests and the results were the same. They found that the most confident before the test, who thought they did better than the rest, scored the least and the most unassured about themselves, who reckoned that others would have done the test better than them, scored the most.
The ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’ is not hard to point out in our surroundings. We see countless individuals around us who suffer from the same dilemmas and they do not negatively impact us because the choices they make with their little or no knowledge are more or less always personal. But what if these people reach the high offices by alluring the majority of us through their ballooned confidence and fake promises. They will start radically impacting our lives which is a very threatening scenario. The cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan- the all righteous, suffers from the same delirious disorder who fooled not just himself but allures the whole nation into the pit of his hollow confidence and all-righteousness.
The need to change the name ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’ to ‘The Imran-Khan Effect’ was felt when our PM came to office in 2018 as he appeared to know almost everything around whether it was India, West, Taliban, or Pukhtun Nationalism. The January 2021 remarks of the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan about India confirms it, when Khan said, “You know, probably out of all the Pakistanis, I know India better than all of them.” Similarly, one month later in February 2021 his address in a conference of the Ulema and Mashaikh Conference in Islamabad in which he said that he knows Western countries better than other Pakistani leaders because of living there for a long time.” And his most recent controversial remarks on October 11 about Pashtuns in which he claimed that many Pakistani Pashtuns support the Afghan Taliban due to ethnic affiliation. Imran Khan said, “The Pashtuns on this side [Pakistan] were completely sympathetic with the [Taliban] Pashtuns [in Afghanistan] — not because of the religious ideology but because of Pashtun ethnicity and nationality, which is very strong.” Moreover, talking about the people Mr.Righteous termed as ‘liberals’, the knowledgeable Mr. Right said, “They are cut off from the rest of Pakistan. They look at Pakistan through Western lenses. They actually don’t know what Pakistan is.” He shook his head when he uttered these lines as if he knows all that they don’t. All these claims and the outrageous confidence in his knowledge and perspective point towards this unfortunate reality that our honorable Prime Minister is the most famous and dangerous exemplification of the Dunning Kruger effect.
The nation remembers the promises he made to his people before the general election in 2018. The real issue does not lie in the promises he made as every politician makes promises in pre-election campaigns. However, the issue is that none could make them appear as real as he did. The expectations of the masses he embarked on were unreal. The masses actually believed in the ‘100-day plan’ given by our righteous PM when came to power. Now after three years into his regime, not only have we discovered all the promises made for improving the economy and governance unfulfilled, but the problems have been multiplied rather than being resolved. The Capitalistic forces have deepened the economic disparities and the PTI’s leader claims that he can fix the system without knowing how it works has infuriated the masses more than ever. The corruption in the institutions is looming high and all the masses hear from the illusioned PM is an ‘all-right’ remark. In the name of bringing macroeconomic stability, growth has been at a stampede, the currency is devalued to a record low and markets have lost their trust. Hyper-inflation and unprecedented power and energy price hikes coupled with a sharp decline in incomes of the middle, lower-middle, and working-class have brought gruesome hardships on the common masses. Poverty indicators soar and unemployment rises as a consequence of this record economic slowdown.
The Imran-Khan effect is not just a psychological phenomenon in the Pakistani context. It is a contagious pandemic transferred to each one of us now. Unfortunately, we all are equally suffering from the delirious Khan’s pandemic as we are waiting for Godot that he will come and tag us out of the abysses in which we all lie- some satisfied, some not. The condition of our PM is more threatening because of his position as his choices have turned the life of each individual in Pakistan into a living hell. It is not far when the all-righteous and all-knowing PM will be blaming the system or the institutions, grumbling that they made him fail in his perceived project and he was doing everything right. Like our cousin and friend who scolds the system or the teacher when they fail a test or secure fewer marks. More concerning is the fact that our PM’s condition has deteriorated to such an extreme that he still believes that his dispositions are right and he still has this stupid conviction that he knows everything better than anyone. If After heading us- the blind nation, into the pit of inflation, corruption, and political chaos in which we will remain for decades to come, the PM is still confident he is refashioning the country in the right direction then we all should realize that we need to invent the metacognition machine to make our hysterical leader realize how wrong, incompetent and uninformed he is sometimes- most of the times actually. Bertrand Russel seems to have met Imran Khan when he aptly said, “One of the painful things of our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”