Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell.

Recently, I received an email from someone looking to enter a team in an adventure race soliciting more team members. Now, personally, I have no interest in adventure races, as, among other reasons, I feel capable of designing my own adventures and, hence, feel no need to pay out big bucks for the dubious pleasure of sampling someone else s' "adventure." But, philosophical ramblings aside, what caught my eye about this solicitation was the comment that map/compass skills were an asset but not mandatory as one person on the team already had those skills and that was entirely sufficient.

Now, having spent almost 30 years wandering around the bush, the mountains and the oceans, most of it off-trail, off the beaten path, and off the grid, I am only too aware of how easy it is to get turned around and suddenly find yourself, if not frankly lost, at least misplaced. I actually can't think that anyone who is a reasonably competent navigator would be naive enough to think that they always chart the best course or know exactly where they are at all times. After all, even the great make mistakes. So the idea that someone would launch off into an adventure race with themselves as the only navigator strikes me as the ultimate in overconfidence.

Or perhaps, this is merely the perfect illustration of the Dunning Kruger effect where the unskilled overrate their abilities simply because their own incompetence denies them the ability to recognize that incompetence.

Off Route on Mount Clutterbuck in the Purcells

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