In the 1989 movie ‘Wilt’, I recall watching Griff Rhys Jones as a schoolteacher and Mel Smith as a Police Officer play out the following scene:
Inspector Flint: You’re inferring we’re…
[‘we’re’ being ‘the police’]
Inspector Flint: all thick!
Henry Wilt: No, I’m ‘implying’ you’re all thick, you’re ‘inferring’ that that is what I’m ‘implying’.
Having stored this scene for later use, it clearly impressed upon me the difference between these two words. I would suggest as a scene it is more ‘self-evident’ than self-referential but that is up for debate as it does neatly loop back upon the first line (“You’re inferring we’re…”) by providing an education as to the correct usage of infer and imply. It’s a close call.
In this way, for Crazy/Genius scholars, we get a bonus too:
infer/imply – where the two would seem to be mutually dependant concepts, and commonly misconstrued.