humankind

Who are we?

Some mornings when I’ve been on WP for too long, I get to thinking I may have “Imposter Syndrome”.

Looking it up on Wikipedia, I got to the “see also” section and found “Dunning-Kruger Effect” which is on the surface slightly more interesting. Here’s an excerpt by way of the nub of the thing,


The psychological phenomenon of illusory superiority was identified as a form of cognitive bias in Kruger and Dunning’s 1999 study “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”.

The identification derived from the cognitive bias evident in the criminal case of McArthur Wheeler, who, on April 19, 1995, robbed two banks while his face was covered with lemon juice, which he believed would make it invisible to the surveillance cameras. This belief was based on his misunderstanding of the chemical properties of lemon juice as an invisible ink.

(Wikipedia: Dunning-Kruger Effect)


McArthur Wheeler: now you see him, now you still see him

1999 may not seem that long ago until we recognise that WordPress only came into the public domain as recently as May 27th 2003.

Blogger, probably its closest rival, was utterly a non-entity while McArthur Wheeler was free to roam and out shopping for citrus fruits.

Had Kruger and Dunning only waited half a decade more, their study material would have been more ubiquitous. Things might even have been too obvious to warrant a study in the first place. They were ahead of the curve but not by much to make it an impressive find in the timeline of psychiatric disorders. Wheeler was simply an extreme individual on the spectrum of normal human cognitive bias.


Incidentally, I remember having a book for Christmas; one in a series of Ladybird publications for children. I can’t recall the title but it explained a set of “experiments” kids could perform at home with everyday items, and one of those was how to make invisible ink with the juice of a lemon.

I bet Wheeler had that book too. It’s fascinating how common threads run through us all.