Your Brain May Be a Lemon

Lemon Juice
I got a lemon!
Everyone knows Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong, will go wrong—but fewer are familiar with the real psychological phenomenon of the Dunning-Kruger Effect which says, basically, that a person’s true competence is inversely proportional to his confidence in his competence. Now, we here at CrimeHQ don’t normally deal with the purely psychological, but the events that spurred Dunning to his discovery are well within our purview. As reported by the NY Times, Dunning was checking out a copy of the 1996 World Almanac when he came across the peculiar case of McArthur Wheeler:

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.

I suppose if it fades freckles, it can work all kinds of other miracles, too!

So, a Public Service Announcement from your friends at CrimeHQ: before setting out to commit a felony, check with others about how smart you really are. Because your brain is lying to you.


  1. Deborah Lacy

    Wow. This is extreme. Reminds me of the guy here in California who robbed a Taco Bell drive through at gun point on a bike and was suprised when the police caught up to him a few blocks later.

  2. Kim M. Hammond

    I’d rather use the lemons with some vodka!!

  3. Deborah Lacy

    @KimM.Hammond – but will that make you invisible?

  4. Laura K. Curtis

    I just want to know where he came up with that idea. What made him think “well, lemon juice will hide me from the video cameras…”

  5. Deborah Lacy

    @LauraKCurtis – It’s got to be from the secret ink experiment children do. You write in lemon juice, let it dry and then hold it up to the heat to see the writing. Maybe his big mistake was it was too hot…

  6. Laura K. Curtis

    @Deb –

    Oh, yeah, that could TOTALLY be the problem!

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