The porridge he makes is always just right

But never being wrong isn't easy.
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But never being wrong isn't easy.

People who do more than I are fanatics; people who do less are dilettantes.

This holds for all activities. Consider bicycling. Fanatics bicycle daily and train for 112-mile races. Dilettantes bicycle 10 minutes a month. I do the proper amount of bicycling. I get it just right.

People more concerned about neatness than I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those less concerned are slobs. I get it just right.

People who spend more time with the newspaper than I should get a life. People who spend less should get informed. I get it just right. One reason I get newspapers just right is that I devote precisely the right amount of time each day to breakfast.

Getting it just right is not finding the median. It is choosing the right behavior, the proper comportment.

Regarding cooking, for example, people are 94 percent dilettantes and only 5 percent fanatics. Therefore, the 95th percentile is just right. Conversely, in gardening, the 4th percentile is appropriate.

People marvel at my ability to get things just right and ask how I do it. "It is just something I was born with," I explain. "I hardly have to work at it."

It is not, however, an unalloyed blessing. It can cause marital problems.

My wife, though a wonderful woman, is a fanatic about some issues and a dilettante on others. She is a hopeless dilettante regarding televised pro football and a fanatic about duplicate bridge.

Magnanimously, I could overlook these deficiencies if she would try to learn how to get things just right by following my example.

But not only does she exhibit little interest in learning, she deludes herself that she gets things just right.

Cognitive dissonance is a common problem with fanatics and dilettantes. Unable to tolerate the thought that they are doing either too much or too little, they entertain absurd fantasies that they are doing things just right.

To rationalize her delusions, my wife employs fallacious reasoning. "Everybody does it this way," she argues.

"Almost everybody does it because 97 percent of people are fanatics on this subject," I respond. "The second percentile is just right. Coincidentally, that is my level. I got it just right."

You may be wondering how to find what is just right. You cannot trust other people, since they are fanatics or dilettantes. You cannot trust yourself, because cognitive dissonance compels self-delusion.

Fortunately, you can trust me. Go to my Web site,, where I list the appropriate level of interest and activity for thousands of subjects.


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