When You Believe You Are Better Than You Are, When In Fact You Are Worse

It’s a well known phenomenon in sports that overconfidence is a major problem. But what are the consequences of having delusions of victory that are not grounded in reality? The New Yorker explores this, as well as the effects of self-deprecating humor.

A new book, “The Book of the Dead,” recounts the story of the last days of Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who led France for 18 years after the Napoleonic Wars were over. In their book, the authors, Richard Bernstein and Matthew Futterman, tell how the young Napoleon, fascinated by ancient Egyptians, went on an expedition to Egypt. After finding his way blocked at the Pyramids, Napoleon wrote, “But the pharaohs were so superior to all the world that they must have been the gods of heaven.” But when he reached the temple where, according to legend, the god Set lived, the sun god Ra, who did not exist, was discovered and killed, much to the horror of the Egyptian people, who did live in a more advanced civilization than those of the Old and New World. Napoleon’s “lover’s quarrel” with the Egyptians became the basis on which he declared himself to be a god. When he came back to France, he was declared a “divine child,” the youngest in history to be granted such a title. Bernstein and Futterman examine the consequences of Napoleon’s delusions of grandeur, and ask how much of this was due to his delusions of grandeur.

A couple days ago I heard my colleague, Matt Cutts, and his co-bloggers discuss a post by one of my readers, which is titled, “The Internet (in)famous for the people who post self-inserted video game character fanfic and porn.” Here were my thoughts on the post : “I love that this reader is a guy. I want to live in a world where men are free to share their fantasies in a safe space, while women are not, and if they do not have their fantasies censored by being placed in a men’s space, then they have to live with a constant fear of “what will men think?” I think we should all have the freedom to fantasize about anything we want – as long as we do it safely. I am sick of people who fantasize about sexual violence or “non-consensual” child pornography, but say whatever they want about the “real” thing. That is what I meant by sexualizing children (and now adults) for the purposes of their sexual arousal. This post from someone who fantasizes for his own porn-making purposes is a reminder that fantasies do not need to be “fictionalized” to be real . It also tells me there are people out there who fantasize about being on porn sites. I could not believe someone I respected, and I trust, would not fantasize about raping one of our children… and that he did not regret it. If I were a male who fantasized about raping a female child, it wouldn’t bother me if someone told me I should not be sexually attracted to children of that age, because of the risk of rape. The problem is, they don’t tell male rape victims that their fantasies are wrong – they tell them that their fantasies are “normal.” I guess that’s just a different thing I’ll have to figure out – when it comes to sex. As I discussed in an earlier post (… ), there is no reason for a sexual person to be ashamed of anything other than sex. No person should be made to feel bad about their sexual fantasies. I am not talking about anyone who “just loves a certain gender” in the most literal and literal sense. I am saying, though, that sex as it is usually understood (and as it should be, because the definition of sex as “only things that men want to do to women” is the only definition that makes any objective sense to men to begin with) is not just the sum of all people’s fantasies, but rather of fantasies that people have about sex as they experience it. So, when someone who wants to imagine themselves in a sex scene is told “no, you have to fantasize about being forced to have sex,” all that is happening is that the person in question is being forced to think about sex, instead of being forced into a non-existent world to imagine only that they are the object of the act.