(Graphic by Addy Bhardwaj)

Cognitive biases

What are cognitive biases? Cognitive bias means our judgment can sometimes be different from what’s considered normal or rational. We create our own version of reality based on how we perceive things. This version of reality might affect our actions more than the actual facts. So sometimes cognitive biases can make us see things inaccurately, make illogical choices, or act irrationally.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect happens when a person doesn’t know much about something but thinks they are really good at it, overestimating their own competence. Blessed by ignorance sort of thing.

On the other hand, people who are really skilled in that area may think it’s easy for everyone and underestimate their own abilities.

Where it happens

Imagine you and your friend decide to try something new: separately, you both start learning a sport. Within a few days, you can perform a few basic moves. You’re a bit disappointed and think you should be able to do more by now. Since it comes naturally to you, you assume it’s easy for everyone.

In contrast, your friend has only learned a few moves. He is amazed by his progress, but doesn’t realize he’s doing them wrong and making mistakes. He hasn’t learned as much as you, but he doesn’t know enough to recognize his errors. He also doesn’t know how much progress others have made (like you), so he thinks he’s doing great when he’s actually progressing slower than most.

This difference can lead to making uninformed decisions about what opportunities or careers to pursue. You might have asked your friends, “What am I good at?” to get a better idea. Knowing about the Dunning-Kruger effect can help you figure out when to trust your own abilities and when to seek advice from others who can see you more objectively.


“Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition. The problem with it is we see it in other people, and we don’t see it in ourselves. The first rule of the Dunning–Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning–Kruger club.”      


-David Dunning

Mental health

Not being aware of our strengths can affect our well-being. This often can lead to imposter syndrome, where we feel like a fraud and think we don’t deserve our success (if you’re a tattooer, artist, creative experiencing this, don’t worry, most of the people I talk with felt the same way at some point). It can also make us disappointed when others don’t recognize our talents. The Dunning-Kruger effect can make us think we’re better or worse than we actually are at something. This can cause us to miss opportunities to learn from others or to advance ourselves.

Impact of the Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect can make us aware of our blind spots and help us adjust how we see ourselves. It’s hard to do that because our self-assessments can be biased and wrong. If we’re making choices based only on our own knowledge, we may not have enough reliable information.

Also the Dunning-Kruger effect can make us listen to confident people instead of reliable ones. This can have big consequences in many areas.

When someone claims to be skilled, it’s important to observe and get other opinions before believing them. Even if they think they’re great, they might be ignorant and overestimate themselves.

What to do

Recognizing that you think you’re bad at something means you have some self-awareness, and being overly confident may indicate room for growth. It’s important to step back and seek input from others.

To avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect, be open to feedback, even though it can be difficult. Low performers often reject criticism and aren’t interested in self-improvement. Instead of dismissing feedback, accept it as a way to learn and move forward.


Craig Ridley

I came across this sketchbook a few years ago while guesting at Stronghold in Wales. One of the owners is also the man behind the publishing house Atonement books, and you can imagine my joy in seeing all the behind the scenes of that.

While browsing, one book caught my eye. As I opened it, I realized how good the artist was.

Seriously, REALLY GOOD.


Packed with lots of drawings and a cool layout, this book is a must have, especially at a price that is basically a steal.

Great draftsmen deserve recognition, beyond algorithms and marketing tricks.


You can get Craig’s sketchbook at Atonement Books.