Ya know what my guru, the shrink, said? He said that, to some degree, we are all McArthur Wheelers! That’s right. Maybe our ideas are not as outrageous as Wheeler’s ludicrous folly, but we share with him, unhappily, a penchant for being overconfident – a confidence lacking accuracy and truth. Most of us, it turns out, assess ourselves – our skills and abilities – erroneously, and the error is always an overestimation. This is what the Dunning-Kruger effect is all about. It’s a phenomenon the two researchers labeled as an “illusion of confidence” and “illusory superiority.” We (most of us) are, in effect, inadequate and less effective and capable than we really are. It isn’t just in the clumsy way we might rob a bank like that dummkopf, either. It’s everything. It’s my judging myself as the best driver in the western hemisphere (possibly eastern hemisphere, too); it’s the guy on the TV talent show who thinks he’s the best singer or dancer; it’s my neighbor who thinks she can make a better pizza than me.

It kinda hurts to know these things. I mean my head-shrinker is telling me I’m incompetent and that my assessment of my own great forehand is nothing but pure crapola. He’s explaining that my ignorance about myself serves as a coping mechanism.

I dunno, I hate to say it, but I guess he’s right. Ignorance can be truly blissful. You can live with that. The reality is harsher. That I’m not as good as I think I am, is not some idea I want caroming around in my conscious brain. I prefer the proposition that I’m still training for the Olympics. Never mind the fact that I’m on social security – I think I can still make it if I can only improve on my short game.

Stay tune for Part III – it’s about dumb ping pong players… It’s about all of us!