Pants. I put them on every weekday

In 1995 McArthur Wheeler robbed two Pittsburg banks in broad daylight wearing no disguise. He was shocked when he was arrested later the same day because he had rubbed lemon juice on his face. Lemon juice can be used as invisible ink, so he reasoned that as long as he stayed away from direct heat sources he would remain invisible. Police determined that he was neither mentally ill nor on drugs. He was just an idiot. Four years later, inspired by this spectacular mix of confidence and incompetence, David Dunning and Justin Kruger authored their now-famous study “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”

 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect, simply stated, describes the inability of the incompetent to recognize their own incompetence. Follow-up studies describe the opposite phenomenon of highly competent people underestimating their performance. Combining the two, it seems possible to make this general statement: competence and confidence are inversely correlated. The ignorant are ignorant of the extent of their ignorance. But the more you know about something, the more you realize how little you know. Which is why, next to idiots, PhDs are the most useless group of people I’ve worked with. Super deep subject matter expertise paired with the academic experience of taking literally years to investigate a single problem set appears to lead to a propensity for admiring problems indefinitely. Paralysis by analysis. 

 

There’s a sweet spot that’s a few notches more advanced than “know just enough to be dangerous.” I’m an expert at a couple of core skills: UX and writing. I’m knowledgeable enough to be productive in multiple domains: grocery, agricultural equipment, EdTech, FinTech. I will most likely never pursue a Ph.D., but I start two more Master’s degrees in January. Given the option, I vastly prefer going just deep enough in a few lateral subject matters to going all the way on a single one.