Don't read this!

Spoiler: Romania got the bronze for team dressage in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Ignorance is bliss. Did you ever wish you knew nothing at all? Do you imagine yourself as one of those Paddy Pint-swampers, just cruising through life, going from your tedious 9-5 to plonking on the couch watching Eastenders? Imagine not understanding there'll soon be a new war in Iran, never even hearing about it; or not knowing what the big deal is with Shannon; or reading magazines rather than books. All your friends talk about sport exclusively, and you've have never heard of Chomsky. Begorrah, but you'd sleep well every night.

Working as a musician, I get to see a great number of people in various social settings at weekends. Although I could detail the obnoxious kind of things people get up to when they're drunk, I must rather make mention of a certain type of person I encounter at every single event. And they're not even drunk.

This is the person who stands in my way as I try to move equipment into a venue. It's really a simple dynamic: the band has to set up, there's a lot of stuff to be moved, and you're in the way. Rather than step aside and continue your pedestrian conversation elsewhere, you turn to look at this offending gear-humper as if he had seven heads. Never mind that you are standing in a passageway/in front of a door/in the only space possible for the carriage of goods. Or perhaps (as last night) you are sitting in a huge stuffed armchair which you moved in front of the service entrance.

After your appraisal of my seven heads, I consider myself blessed if I receive the following magnanimous gesture: a slight shift of between 3-to-10 inches to the side (the average is generally 5, I would guess). Last night, the armchair managed only 4 inches.

Lady, these PA speakers are over 130 lbs each. They are massive. Basically, we're talking this kind of thing:

You are a person who lacks empathy, who can't envision the scene from someone else's perspective. Have you never before witnessed someone simply trying to do their job? I sometimes believe these people must never have worked a day in their lives.

I also see you during the day in shops, perhaps not noticing the assistant is stressed or new or under supervision; regardless, the peons are just there to serve your petty little desires. You have no sense of the 'other,' no capacity for self-reflection, no inner dialogue (hmm, George W.'s glazed expression comes to mind). Oblivious to the trail of irritated service people, endangered motorists, and hampered musicians you leave in your wake, you sleep like a baby–and know nothing.

Back to my point. I believe this phenomenon is symptomatic of what is called the Dunning-Kroger effect. It states that incompetent individuals:

  1. Overestimate their own level of skill
  2. Fail to recognize genuine skill in others
  3. Fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy

The less you know, the more you think you know. If happiness is linked to self-esteem, these people must be smugly content 24/7.

I've been 'learning' to play music for more than 20 years. The more I learn, the more I realise I don't know anything. That's a depressing trend. Especially since I now know I would have been better off learning three chords, and just thinking I knew it all!

You also have learnt something during this post (remember the dressage medal?). You now have increased the sum of your knowledge, and so have doomed the safe insular ignorance which allowed you the fantasy of omniscience. Damn you, Love of Learning!