Bad Drive

I was out driving with my children recently, running some errands. At one point, one of my daughters asked me: “Why are so many people so bad at driving?”

My default answer to questions of that nature is: “Everything is a skill, and all skills are specialized knowledge. So for any given skill, we should expect the majority of people to be bad at it.” This isn’t even a matter of “half of all people are below average,” it’s the fact that skills aren’t naturally occurring. You have to actively learn them.

I thought about it more deeply though, and I think there’s even more to it. Most people are bad at things not only because they haven’t taken the time to be good at them (and this isn’t blameworthy necessarily; we all have limited capacity to learn and have to prioritize different things, so no one can be good at everything), but because people don’t even know what “good” means.

I once talked to someone who claimed to be a “very good driver.” When I pointed out that she had been in eight car accidents even in just the time I’d known her, she defended her claim by pointing out that she had not been found to be at legal fault in any of them. My definition of “good driver” starts, at minimum, with getting in no accidents at all.

I’m not here to quibble over what constitutes a good driver. I’m here to point out that most people have no definition of “good” at all for the things they claim to be good at.

Which is why most people are bad at most things.

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