At 5 feet 6 inches and about 270 pounds, bank robbery suspect McArthur Wheeler isn’t the type of person who fades into the woodwork. So it was no surprise that he was recognised by informants, who tipped detectives to his whereabouts after his picture was telecast on the 11 o’clock news.
Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.
Wheeler had not gone into “this thing” blindly but had performed a variety of tests prior to the robbery.Wheeler reported he had tested the theory, and it seemed to work. He had snapped a Polaroid picture of himself and wasn’t anywhere to be found in the image. Unlike Wheeler, police deduced that:
(a) the film was bad;
(b) Wheeler hadn’t adjusted the camera correctly; or
(c) Wheeler had pointed the camera away from his face at the critical moment when he snapped the photo.
A couple of academics researched Wheeler's actions and decided that if Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity - does this sound familiar?
The affable criminal had succumbed to the Dunning Kruger effect. Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realise it. In a nutshell, our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence. Ah ignorance truly is bliss.
Now that sort of explains a lot!
Thanks to Thriftcriminal for the article, it's really quite interesting if you have little else to do on a wet weekend.
Have a good one wherever you are.