Sunday, August 7, 2011

Of Dunning-Kruger and Beer and Pizza at Papa-Del's

My sister and I were discussing our blogging last night. She is much more current and active than I, although she has fallen off the pace that she has set for herself over the last several years. I have nearly completely dropped off the map, not posting since last October (although that was a darn good post, if I do say so myself). After careful consideration, we both discovered the problem - perceived lack of content!

Actually, the inclusion of the word "perceived" is the critical element. I think we both have plenty of content, but neither of us actually believe it in our gut. We are probably far harder on ourselves than we need to be. Chalk it up to a corollary of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, recently called to my attention by Nathaniel. He stumbled upon it on StumbleUpon (check it out on the Internet if you're not aware of it). According to Wikipedia, it is a "cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes." The converse is that people who have some skills/abilities tend to underrate them, causing an illusory sense of incompetence.

I've known for a long time that I beat myself up too much on stuff, and probably worthiness of my blog content is one of those areas. Actually, I believe I suffer from a curious mixture of wild over-confidence in my abilities in some respects and severe self-doubt in others. My old college roommate, Kevin, had a wonderful turn of phrase for the former, used most devilishly on our trumpet and music colleagues whom we thought had an exaggerated view of their own musical abilities - he often said they were "suffering from delusions of adequacy."

Which leads me to my next thought in this rambling entry - I reconnected with dear old college chums Kevin and Caroline Flanigan at University of Illinois last weekend. We calculated it had been 15+ years since we'd seen each other. We vowed it would never happen again, because seeing each other was fantastic. There are some people you just connect with, and it doesn't matter how long it's been - it seems like just yesterday since we'd seen each other. Plus there were other bonuses for the weekend, like my meeting two of their three wonderful children, Abby and Liam. We are looking forward to them meeting Nathaniel (again) and me meeting Maggie (again), who are about the same age. And there was the added bonus of reconnecting with mutual friend Scott Bush. Scott was Caroline's high school friend, and Kevin had to "pass muster" with Scott when Kevin and Caroline started dating; I too remember meeting Caroline ("this great girl I met in chemistry lab") - I don't think I applied as "scientific inquiry" on Caroline as Scott did on Kevin (who likened it to presenting his c.v. to Scott), although if I had, she would have passed with an A+ from the moment Kevin introduced us.

We had some good times back in the day, and I'm looking forward to more years of good times to come. Kevin, I think we need to dig up your short film ("The Dip") and have a screening! Written produced and directed by Kevin, starring Caroline and me (the only people available to start shooting at 11:45 p.m. the night before the project was due).

2 comments:

Ruth Braun (Ruthie) said...

What a great post Rob! I hope this means you will now realize the great worthiness of your being and how special you are to so many people.

Can't wait to read your next post :-)

Rob said...

Hey, thanks Ruthie! I'm so glad I've met you! I would have thought my group of close friends was "set" in life at my age/stage of life. Couldn't be further from the truth - I've met so many great people in the last 12 months it unbelieveable - life-transforming, even. I'm glad to know you.