Editor’s Column: Lemon juice is not an invisibility cloak

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
—Touchstone, in As You Like It by William Shakespeare.
In the 1990s two Cornell scientists were inspired by a would-be thief who believed that by covering his face in lemon juice he’d be invisible when he robbed the local bank. His theory? Lemon juice is “invisible ink” unless you heat it up, so by applying lemon juice to his face, he would be invisible.

Niki Turner

The scientists, Dunning and Kruger, eventually concluded that “those who think they know, don’t know.” Students who thought they’d ace a test failed, while students who fretted that they weren’t well-informed enough passed with ease. Worse, the ones who weren’t prepared over-emphasized their success. They called it the Dunning-Kruger effect, and it’s fascinating to study.
One of my high school teachers gave us an assignment: we were to grade ourselves based on our perception of the work we’d done.
I gave myself a “B.”
I was a straight-A student. Why would I give myself a “B”? Because I didn’t feel like I deserved an “A.” I could have done more, studied harder, been better. Meanwhile, students who had ditched half the classes and failed to turn in assignments gave themselves “A’s.”
It seems like that kind of attitude is more prevalent than ever. People think they know something, but they don’t check it out, and then they try to defend their position.
No one knows everything. We all see one limited side of every situation, not the whole picture. Let’s make the effort to see the whole truth, not just our own perception.
That poor dude who tried to rob a bank with his face coated in lemon juice really thought he was right. I don’t want to be that guy. Do you?