Stupid is as Stupid Does
My sons would tell you that it has been drilled into their heads that, at all times, there must be three questions pending in their minds: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? What's likely to happen?
It is simply not permissible to find oneself at the head of the checkout line without your credit card (or cash) in hand. You may not wander about the subway car as it accelerates or begins to brake. When the ambient temperature is 20 degrees, you may not arrive at the bottom of the hill and be surprised by ice in the road. To find oneself in any of these situations is to have been a fool, to have been oblivious to the world, to have been without life skills. It does not get worse than that.
A corollary is that one is always responsible for knowing what one does not know. If one is unfamiliar with the pricing structure for competing suppliers of residential electricity in Cleveland, Ohio, then one should remain silent if that is the topic of discussion. If one has been in Wilmington, NC, exactly once before, then one should express no opinion as to the location of ABC stores, or why one might have relocated.
These seem to to be simple, self-evident aspects of the universe as we find it. But it is not so.
I have recently been made aware of an article in a learned journal addressing this subject. While some years old, there is no reason to doubt the conclusion of the authors: There is an inverse correlation between what one knows, and what one thinks one knows. That is, if a test of English grammar is administered to a random group of people, and they are asked, after completing the test, how they think they performed, those who did poorly will generally believe that they have actually done rather well. The article, entitled "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" appeared in the December, 1999, edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Click [HERE].
Given this context, you may imagine my reaction to two recent news stories.
First, the young bride who, unable to overcome second thoughts, chose not to confide her doubts to her fiance, but instead to secretly flee, and to claim to have been abducted. Story HERE. (Consider this: Why Albuquerque?)(And I'm not the only one confused: A Google search for "Jennifer Wilbanks" produces nearly 20,000 hits.) What was her plan? ("Oh my goodness. He's got SO MUCH hair on his back. I can't take it. I know, I'll disappear just before the wedding. Maybe no one will notice. And if they do, I'll tell them I've been kidnapped. THAT should settle things down!")
Second, of course, is the gang of geniuses from Methuen, Massachusetts, who claimed to have dug up (in the back yard, of course) a large wad of old, collectible, currency. They made the media rounds: CNN, NBC, Oprah, everybody! Their story was one of regular guys, working fellas, who happened upon a fortune. Of course, as a matter of fact, they stole the loot. Story HERE. What were they thinking? ("OK, listen: we found this stuff in a building we were working in. Since we're thieves, let's focus as much attention as possible on us, since then no one will EVER think that we might be full of crap. Our neighbors won't notice that no one was digging in our yard at all. Yeah, THAT's IT!!")