The Story of Mr. McArthur Wheeler – a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that it would make him invisible, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink.
On one fine morning in Pittsburgh (PA), in the year 1995, a man aged 44, known by the name McArthur Wheeler decided to rob a bank. Since he thought he knew a lot about a peculiar chemical property of lemon juice, he decided to smear the juice on his face before executing his plan to rob the bank.
His logic – As lemon juice can be used to write invisible letters that become visible only when the letter is held close to a heat source, he thought, the same thing would work on his face too. By smearing lemon juice all over his face, he thought that his face would become invisible to the security cameras at the bank. He did not just think that, he was pretty confident about this. He even checked his “trick” by taking a selfie with a polaroid camera. I’m not sure if the film was defective, or the camera wasn’t operated properly, but the camera did give him a blank image. The blank image made him absolutely sure that this trick would work. Or he would not have ever dared to rob a bank with lemon juice on his face.
That day, he went on and robbed not one, but two saving banks in Pittsburgh. A few hours after he had done his job, the police got their hands on the surveillance tape and decided to play it on the 11 O’Clock news. An hour later, an informant identified McArthur in the news video and contacted the police with the man’s name. McArthur got arrested on the same day. Ironically, the same surveillance cameras that he was confident would not be able to capture his face, got him behind the bars. During his interaction with the police, he was incredulous on how his ignorance had failed him.
Two psychologists studied on this story and this effect has since been named the Dunning-Kruger effect after the authors of the study.
If you’ve observed carefully, people who aren’t very good at humour or sarcasm often tell poor jokes and expect people around them to laugh hard. But when people don’t laugh, they seem genuinely shocked. It is incredible to see them totally unaware of how bad they are at it.
At every place, it is a common tendency of the least skilled people to have an inflated sense of self-competency.
“Ignorance sure is a dangerous thing.”