Ok - I'll risk making myself look like a complete and utter moron here, as I listed to the news piece on the radio (yes, I listen to NPR. And thrash metal. That's my car. ) and I understood it (the parts I heard over the train) this way:
You have 100 people. Say some of them are NBA players. Some of them aren't. You measure their heights, and you come up with an average height of, we'll just say 6' even. But, most people aren't actually near 6', you just wound up with 6' as an average because you had a few super-tall folks in there, screwing things up for you. Most people are shorter, but some people are much, much taller.
In addition, I understood this from the segment: The bell curve was developed with regards to factory workers. So, in the factory setting you can make anywhere from 0-100 widgets an hour, but you cannot make more than 100 widgets. The factory just won't allow it. So some very slow people make 2 widgets, most make, say 50, and some make 100. However what wasn't accounted for was the fact that people making 100 widgets might actually be able to make more, but the factory was just too slow for them. So the 50 made by the peak of the curve isn't wholly accurate because if the factory didn't constrain the top performers they would be able to make more than 100.
So, the statement that most of us aren't average is true if we are averaging ourselves against the so-called "superstars" in any given field. I see it as most of us are one way, and then a couple show-offs come along and make the whole lot look bad.
I'm not arguing the merits of the study, just chiming in with my understanding of it. It was an interesting listen.
I realize my discussion of the subject is painfully uneducated, but that's what you get with me.