Two Small Observations

They are:

1. People who don’t know what they’re talking about don’t like to have that fact pointed about, especially if you use the word “ignorant” in context to the fact.

2. People like to confuse “pointing out the fact you don’t know what you’re talking about” with “being hostile,” because it makes them feel better about themselves. It’s generally not worth arguing to them that it’s not necessarily hostile to point out when someone doesn’t know what they’re taking about, but inasmuch as many people who don’t know what they’re talking about are invested in appearing like they do know what they’re talking about, and in the process of trying to make it seem like they do know what they’re talking about will make more statements that show their lack of knowledge, thus necessitating further pointing out that they don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s certainly understandable that they would regard it as hostile. And of course, eventually one may indeed become hostile toward people determined to continue to not know what they are talking about.

Discuss.

82 thoughts on “Two Small Observations

  1. Both of these are explainable as part of the Dunning-Kruger effect. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect.

    That is the effect that explains why you can’t tell your brother-in-law that there really isn’t anyone in Nigeria who wants to share 5.300.000$ (5 point three millions dollars american) with him just for mailing a few money orders, and why after the fact he will never admit he was wrong.

  2. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
    – Upton Sinclair

  3. I need to make up a word for this syndrome: It’s the same kind of thing as “I wasn’t talking to you.”

    It’s nearly impossible to say that and not have it taken wrong . . . EVEN WHEN TRUE and when upon going back and rehashing the conversation, the other person agrees with you. If you had said this to them, they would have taken it wrong.

    You end up having to sound like you correct people on the use of “I and me”. “I was not addressing that particular utterance to your person.”

  4. Re: 1 – there are a whole lot of people who confuse the terms “ignorant” and “stupid.”

    Whether or not those people are ignorant and stupid or simply ignorant is, of course, subject to individual analysis.

  5. Around about that point in the conversation, I normally flag the person as a potential mark, and start figuring out exactly how they could be taken. People can be made to fork over good hard cash for things that make them feel smarter than they are, and even more cash to keep from feeling that they’ve been taken. Unfortunately, once you get them to the point of thinking you are being hostile, you’re unlikely to see a dime of it.

    Note: I am in fact a fairly moral person, and don’t actually prey upon the weaknesses of the gullible. But it’s a lovely mental exercise.

  6. 1. Many people lack the intellectual will or capacity to differentiate between ignorant and idiot. They assume that both mean the same thing and react accordingly — often because they use the two terms interchangeably.

    2. Why must you crush their fragile egos, Scalzi? Unless I’m invested in impressing someone, I rarely find it necessary to speak up. Except on the Internet. Because being wrong in the Internet is a sin against Man, God, and the FSM.

    Sub-question: Is a discussion like part 2 not a clear signal that a discussion is about to Godwinate? I’d have to think so. Sooner or later someones gonna drop the ‘H’ bomb.

  7. “Reverse your prop, your sucking mud” old Navy saying.

    “Ya’ can’t fix stupid” – Newer saying

    nuff’ said

  8. I think it is worse when two people have to be right and neither can admit they are wrong. I’ve married into one of those feuds actually, and it is just as frustrating that BOTH of them won’t admit they were both wrong on some level.

    I also found it easier to say “everyone is at fault, lets move on”, but I’m rather mellow at things. And it doesn’t always work.

  9. Well, applying to me personally, I’d say that around 98% of the time, if I tell someone they don’t know what they’re talking about, I *am* being hostile.

    Things have to go pretty far before I’ll flat out tell someone, “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” and I usually follow it with some more- or less-polite variation of “and you need to shut up now,” depending.

    Before I get there, I will try to say it in more polite ways or maybe try to steer the conversation in a less making-an-ass-of-themselves direction. I’ll generally resort to leaving the conversation (and the physical area, if possible) before I get to the breaking point.

    Sometimes, though, you can’t really avoid having to say it. Which annoys me even more.

  10. Brett L:

    “Why must you crush their fragile egos, Scalzi? Unless I’m invested in impressing someone, I rarely find it necessary to speak up. Except on the Internet. Because being wrong in the Internet is a sin against Man, God, and the FSM.”

    Those damn Internets!

    Well, and normally I don’t go out of my way. But sometimes I think it’s useful.

  11. Dave [#8] – that actually suggests a good way for a con artist to operate, but it would work best with a partner. One person gets into arguments with potential marks to assess their vulnerabilities, and then the partner (who is not yet known to the mark) would take this information and go in for the kill. So, while assessing your mark, you don’t have to worry about whether you make him angry or not.

    I’m sure that con artists have already figured this out, which might be something to keep in mind if you get into a blazing row with somebody that you only know slightly, and then somebody else you don’t know well comes to you with a business proposition . . .

  12. What Jill & Brett said above, doubled.

    Always amazes me the number of people who are “ignorant” of the actual definitions of the words “ignorant” & “stupid”. I suppose one could make the case, at least in the US, that the vernacular definition of the word “ignorant” has drifted into the territory of “stupid”, and that dictionaries simply haven’t caught up with this drift. But somehow, that argument also seems kind of, well, ignorant. :)

    Replacing the use of the word “ignorant” with the word “uninformed” doesn’t seem to change the reaction dynamic John described. Tell someone they’re uninformed on a particular subject and you’re still just as likely to get the “don’t call me stupid!” response.

  13. Ah John, always remember, Tis a fruitless and thankless endeavour.

    Now, if these two observations are over a web tiff I’ve been watching, I would venture to say that there’s only so much you can do against relentless ad hominems and the whole ‘Jeez, calm down man, why are you taking it all so seriously’ flavour of web argument.

    I encounter this a fair bit in real life, and on the web. People who counter any hint of passion in your voice or writing style with ‘there’s no need to get upset’, which of course does actually upset you. I’m often perplexed as to what a real, genuine discussion sounds/looks like to such folk, perhaps a sort of low-speed screaming match. No, no, they should be completely free to spout off, unchallenged and unmolested, because clearly anyone who disagrees with them is just being unreasonable.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to get out the troll brush and paint this type of infuriating web denizen for what they are: they’re ‘play nice trolls’, who will paint any argument against them as mean-spirited attacks. They’re in the same genus as politicians who say dissent equals disloyalty.

  14. Dave(#19) – why do you have to go around painting me? Can’t we just agree to disagree? So, each time you make a statement, could you please couch it with – ‘Though Patrick M. may disagree with me, but I still like him as a person’

    doesn’t that seem a little nicer and more fair? You know, civilized?

  15. Yeah, you can’t fix stupid. Ignorance is a different thing entirely. I try not to waste my time arguing with the stupid, but some folks who are ignorant are worth the effort. So, in a way, it’s a compliment to argue with them! Yes, that’s it!

  16. Regular ignorance is curable. Willful ignorance generally is not, at least not conclusively and permanently.

    By the way, I think there are at least as many people who correct others out of self-love as there are people who correct others out of love of truth.

  17. I find that in many cases, there is no practical difference between an idiot and one who is simply or deliberately ignorant.

    Most of the time these people are either ignorant of the fact that they’re acting like idiots, or too dammed idiotic to know that they’re just plain ignorant.

    I usually ignore both types, but I find that hostility is a reasonable response to both conditions when I’m forced to deal with either. Of course, that’s also the reason I live in rural Alaska, and I’m armed. ;)

  18. Ken:

    “I think there are at least as many people who correct others out of self-love as there are people who correct others out of love of truth.”

    Absolutely true — and some who do it out of some combination of both.

  19. I have noticed that people who don’t know what they’re talking about usually incite hostility in the people who point it out. [ie - "I'm sorry, but I really never drank your flavor of Kool-Aid."]

  20. 1. People ARE stupid. (Think about averages, and IQ.)
    2. Many other countries have more than their fair share of ignorant people, but America is one of the few countries that actively *celebrates* our stupid people. (My semi-controversial example: think about all the people who voted for Bush because he was a “regular guy.”
    3. People do get angry when challenged, because…
    4. We have now entire generations who believe that they are the precious snowflakes everyone kept telling them they were growing up. They have never been allowed to experience failure, were academically advanced regardless of ability, and were received a “participation trophy” for every sport they played, no matter how badly. That breeds ignorant, entitled people who believe sunshine streams directly from their butts.
    5. Not me though, I deserve my own TV show. People can wear sunglasses if the light from my butt is too bright.

    (That is also an awesomely long sentence in your point 2, by the way, but I probably don’t know what I am talking about.) :)

  21. My favorite is when I blog about something I do know about, usually backed up with intellectual sources, and someone leaves me a comment saying I don’t know what I’m talking about. When in fact, it’s the person accusing me of not knowing that actually doesn’t know. Hypocritical, ironic, and just plain amusing.

  22. Rodney @10,
    Amusingly, the xkcd forum discussion on that particular comic was the first thing that came to mind when I read this post. I can’t say anything else without making this post more self-referential than I think is wise.

  23. When someone expresses an opinion, they obviously think they have some idea what they are talking about. You are kidding yourself if you think saying they don’t isn’t insulting (how’s that for a sentence….?).

    The fact that you have a differing opinion does not, in fact, mean that they are wrong. We all know the saying “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts”. In these matters, the difference between fact & opinion is much more blurred than the discussors are often willing to acknowledge, especially in the arena of politics, where “facts” are often merely the chosen view of the various ideological camps. An objective person can see that it is a matter where reasonable people can reasonably disagree.

    So when you find yourself correcting someone else’s “ignorance” – are you sure you are dealing with a matter of fact or opinion? All too often in this forum, I see people referred to as ignorant, when the matter in dispute is ideological – and the person correcting the other’s “facts” is merely holding forth on their chosen party’s preferred conventional wisdom.

  24. @Noah…

    Sorry but I can’t resist this… you don’t know what you’re talking about. Stupid isn’t the same thing as ignorant.

  25. It is generally my experience that ignorant folks never stop talking about what they don’t know long enough to actually be told that they are ignorant about something. Despite the ignorance involved, it is a clever defense mechanism to being called out as a fraud.

    This is likely why people are so free to have hostile conversations online that rarely occur in real life. Eventually ignorant folks have to stop typing to have their message heard (chat rooms notwithstanding, but not as popular as blogs and message boards), but they never have to stop talking unless they choke on a fly that accidentally buzzed into their mouths.

  26. When I was a lad at Georgia Tech, we had two words we used to describe the two varieties of ignorance: One was “twinkie”, your basic n00b who didn’t know the rules, but, given that he’d already been granted admission to Tech, was quite possibly capable of learning. Most either didn’t stay twinkies long, or didn’t stay long, depending on what their GPA did.

    The second class of ignorant was…. unprintable in polite company, but it’s what hides between your puckerguards. These were the people who were *deliberately* ignorant or pretended they were for the premeditated purpose of annoyance.

    Merely stupid could be left to the administration (or Darwin) to fix. (Just, if he said ‘hey, y’all, watch this,’ DUCK!) Deliberate ignorance… somewhat less tractable.

  27. Laura Herbertsonon @ 29
    My favorite is when I blog about something I do know about, usually backed up with intellectual sources, …

    Note that this places you in a distinct minority even among people online who know what they are talking about.

    Standard practice is to just tell people they are wrong, but not how or why, and not to cite sources except under duress.

    Also, it is apparently bad form to distinguish between “always completely wrong” and “information that was correct at one time, but now is out of date”.

  28. Mule Face:

    “When someone expresses an opinion, they obviously think they have some idea what they are talking about.”

    Yes, but just because one believes that doesn’t mean it is true. And while no one likes having it pointed out that they don’t, noting that someone’s opinion is based on ignorance of facts needn’t be inherently insulting. It can be, depending on how the news is delivered, but it doesn’t have to be.

  29. One of my favorite places on the net is “Unskilled and Unaware of it”:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.apa.org%2Fjournals%2Ffeatures%2Fpsp7761121.pdf&ei=VcWESLOLNo_SpgT10-HPCQ&usg=AFQjCNElD1Z–OcLdhxALGOewDGvcsHiiw&sig2=DmWuDg6vzK71U4xxJYpSIw

    This is a study about how unskilled people can only recognize their inability if you teach them enough to become skilled. I’m not explaining that well, but I got a real kick out of reading it.

  30. Reminds me of that offensive picture I came across:

    “Arguing on the Internet is like competing in the Special Olympics…”

    John, are you mostly referring to the big long drawn out argument in your “Baby Momma” post? Cause that was *fun* to read. :)

  31. No, the immediate referent is something else entirely, which I’m not pointing to here, mostly because I’m not sure the fellow I argued with deserves being swamped by onlookers.

  32. Does this mean that there’s an Internet slapfight going on somewhere that I’m *missing*?

    I’m so exhausted from the last one I followed that this is a great relief.

  33. I think the problem might be that the broader the complaint, the more likely it is that it can be interpreted in a way which means it’s taken as a personal attack. So:

    You don’t know what you’re talking about -> You don’t know anything -> You’re ignorant -> Which is because you’re too stupid to learn

    You’d really have to speak to a psychologist on this one, but the more different your viewpoint, the harder it is to change someone’s mind. A complete rebuttal is more likely to seem like an attack, and so be countered by a refusal to listen to it. At attack very carefully directed at the points the person makes, rather than the person is more likely to work, as it stands a higher chance of getting to the bit of the brain that does the evaluating, rather than the emoting, but too many of these will have the same effect. (Neil Gaiman recently made a similar point on how to tell a friend their book is terrible, if you want a rather more eloquent version.)

    There is another thing at work here, and that is the size of the concession you’re asking your opponent to make. Think of pride as a currency. Any concession will lead to a loss of face. The larger the concession, the more the pride is lost. It’s very hard to admit you’re wrong on a large point (It stings. Lots), but a smaller point ‘costs’ much less, and so is easier to give away.

    Telling someone they don’t know anything about a field is so large that the point costs so much that it is rarely (if ever) conceded.

  34. I blame it on neoconservatism. Now everyone is entitled to spout whatever ignorant opinion they have because if you call them on it or shut them up then you are being oppressive and elitist. It’s retarded.

  35. Ed:

    I don’t think this can be laid at the feet of Neoconservatism. As a phenomenon, it existed long before now.

  36. The implied conjugate observation is that if you have any genuine interest in imparting correct information, it behooves you to find ways to do it that don’t directly involve telling other people that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

  37. Scalzi:

    “Yes, but just because one believes that doesn’t mean it is true.”

    Well now you’re just repeating yourself. My point was that frequently the corrector of the “ignorant” thinks he knows the “facts” when he’s merely bloviating his own interpretations which he mistakenly believes are “facts”. I believe we have a conundrum here…..

  38. I have mostly managed to control the rising urge to kill on seeing the words “IANAL, but….”

    That said, telling somebody they are incorrect is far less likely to produce reflexive nuh-UH-ery than saying “you’re ignorant” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about”. It’s the difference between telling somebody they’re mistaken, and telling them that their suite of intellectual abilities is far inferior to one’s own.

    But it depends on whether you’re trying to set the record straight, or bring the hammer down on a moron who dares pollute the purity of the Internets with their ignorance. The latter is rarely an altruistic act.

  39. Ulrika, Mythago:

    It’s certainly true that one generally does not lead with “ignorant.” On the other hand, in the face of continued denial of ignorance, I don’t know that it’s such a horrible thing to bring it out and employ it.

  40. Mythago, I *am* a lawyer, and offer legal advice far less readily than those who IANAL. Of course, there are potential consequences to me offering bad legal advice whether clients are paying for it or not, so I tend to avoid risking censure for free.

  41. Oh, agreed. Particularly when the denial of ignorance is not an explanation as to why the person is factually correct, but an insistence on their essential rightness and intellectual superiority. Or when they quote Wikipedia as an authoritative source. (At that point, all bets are off.)

    But the same people who are prone to spouting bloviated, uninformed opinions are the ones who think “You ignorant twit, you don’t know what you’re talking about” is the appropriate opening response in a disagreement.

  42. Equating self worth to being right is an easy trap to fall into. Being wrong affects their sense of self, their world view. In general it is pretty human failing. Most people aren’t wise enough to realize how little they know, myself included.

  43. Corey:

    Indeed. One of the things I’m hoping to get Athena over is the idea that being smart = being right all the time. It’s a struggle, not in the least because I didn’t get over that until, oh, my mid-20s.

  44. @Noah (#28) re: your #1: the main problem is that most of us are ignorant about this thing we call intelligence, and especially about highly specific tools like IQs.

    Plainly put, there is a whole science and math dedicated to understanding how we understand, and how to create tests, interpret test results and determine what those results might really tell us.

    I’ll go ahead and suggest that the majority of us virtually present are actually, demonstratively ignorant of the finer points of this discipline. Not to mention that casual understandings of intelligence, IQ and scoring tend to be so wrong as to be completely useless, and often quite damaging when used as a basis for policy. (Please, those of you who have taken first-year college psych, be aware you are likely in the group with the rest of us. Rocket science and brain surgery is much, much easier.)

    I guess I’m saying that I know just enough to know that I don’t trust most interpretations of things like IQ I ran across. While the concept is simple, the application to real, live people is hotly contested, and quite subtle.

  45. “One of the things I’m hoping to get Athena over is the idea that being smart = being right all the time.”

    Wait, what? You mean, that’s not true???

    *cries*

    You have crushed what little self-image I had left.

    (snicker)

  46. I once sat at a bar next to someone who wasted five of my rapidly dwindling minutes on this Earth extolling the virtues of supply side economics. (I didn’t iknow he was going to do that.)

    When he came up for air, he asked what I thought. I swallowed the beer in my mouth, wiped the back of my hand acorss my lips, and said in a calm, level voice, “I think you’re full of shit.”

    He didn’t get hostiel, and he didn’t bother me any more. Kind of a win-win from my perspective.

  47. I consider myself an empiricist, and I try hard to keep up with the literature in my area (agriculture) from the two strong research Universities in our climate area. So, it fairly frequently happens that someone around me is doing something that used to be considered “correct”, but no longer is considered so. I haven’t found a good way to relieve that person of their ignorance while staying on good terms.

    Part of me says, “whatever”, since for all I know, new research will come out tomorrow, going back to the original belief; the other part *needs* them to know that they’re wrong, benighted, pig-ignorant, and did I mention, wrong!

    Sandy

  48. At the risk of displaying my ignorance is J. Scalzi’s (prop.) use of Mr. Watterson’s comic panel fair use, or some sort of misappropriation of copyright?

    I’ve been looking at the “Whatever” page, and i see that the comic panel does somewhat reflect the proprietor’s vacationing, but still it seems that it isn’t used to illustrate an article about “Calvin and Hobbes,” so I think that it’s an appropriation.

    If Mr. Scalzi did receive permission from the rights holder then this is moot.

    Inquiring (ignorant?) mind wants to know.

    -michael

    p.s. given the horrid uses that Mr. Watterson’s work has been put to this gentle use of it might not upset its owner, which isn’t the same as getting permission before the fact.

  49. Michael:

    Nope, it’s a total appropriation on my part. If Mr. Watterson/United Features Syndicate wants to bill me, they may.

    That said, this is not particularly relevant to the discussion thread.

  50. “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    –Mark Twain (apocryphal)

  51. I find that it’s more effective to demonstrate that someone is ignorant, than to tell them they are. It’s also more challenging that way, because sometimes I have to do my own research to make sure my own facts are straight before I start. The willfully ignorant, I usually just ignore them completely while I’m steamrolling over their errors with the correct info.

    In the example of agriculture, I might say something like, “Actually, recent research has indicated that Y method works better than X method. You might want to try it out and see if that helps you.” A lot of times, if it’s casual and constructive, they don’t get hostile at all. And even if they do, anyone else paying attention to the conversation will have their own opinions about whether the guy is an arse, and might benefit from the corrected info too.

  52. my responses to my responses.

    @33
    “Stupid isn’t the same thing as ignorant.”

    I thought that was my entire point, having given them separate numbers as one and two. The numbering system was being used, as Mr. Scalzi did in his original post, to delineate two separate facts. To be fair, I did mix it up by points 3 and 4, muddling my original point. But still… YOU don’t know what you are talking about. I am rubber, you are glue. ;)

    Sam @38
    “Too true. Shall we call this the Barney the Dinosaur Generation?”

    I would, but I feel that isn’t insulting enough for the enablers who have warped their fragile little minds. :)

    @55

    Good points. I agree that while usingIQ as a tool for determining actual global intelligence is not necessarily accurate, it can demonstrate someone’s current ability in the specific areas tested. Yes, there is bias, and results can be skewed. Regardless, the basic point I think I failed to make is that for whatever skill/trait one has, there is a bell curve for it, and fully 50% of the population is below average at any given trait. Having forgotten nearly all my knowledge of t-tests, confidence intervals, p-values and odds ratios, I am a serious dilettante at best though.

    And maybe this is a result of my upbringing, but I find that rocket science and brain surgery might be easier, but it sure attracts…quicker… people *as a whole* than the “softer” sciences.

    Hypoglycemic. Ignore all of the above as nonsense.

  53. I was at a party on Saturday. Someone was spouting, “it’s a FACT,” about something that was total BS. While I tried to decided if I should say something, my DH (on the other side of the room) couldn’t help overhearing this guy blather.

    DH caught my eye, started laughing, and he and I laughed our heads off. A few others started laughing, too. I think our “Minnesota nice” gets in the way of calling out a clueless in person in public, but this was too much to control.

    The guy shut up.

  54. I frequently find myself in situations where I don’t know what I’m talking about, I like it when people correct me. Especially if they correct me using verifiable data. If enough people correct me I eventually end up knowing what I’m talking about and that is generally a good thing. I’d hate to go around being wrong and not knowing it.

  55. I think I know which conversation you mean, John, since I occasionally visit the site in question for the trainwreck factor.

    And if it’s the place I’m thinking of, then both adjectives certainly apply.

  56. On the subject of using this as a psychological evaluation, I’ve found that when you simply blandly repeat something that is true and they can’t address that, more often than not they will get to some sort of ad hominem rant aginst you in which they reveal their own fears and flaws.

    It’s weird – you present a completely bland exterior that they can’t face, and they rush to fill it up with whatever they hate or fear the most. I’ve seen it five or six times now.

    Sorta the Internet equivalent to Larry Niven’s Blind Spot.

  57. I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with the facts.

    I am never wrong, I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

    And my current favorite, a recent poll on faith and religion showed that 20% of atheists believe in god.

    That last still gets a grin out of me.

  58. Unfortunately, this state of affairs will only get worse as the internet insinuates itself further into our consciousness and the grip of its anti-intellectual bias tightens.

  59. Captain Button at #36 — Michael F. Flynn wished there were a word for having knowledge of a fact that is no longer demonstrated.

    F’rinstance, to cite a popular example, the proposition that Science cannot explain aerodynamically how bees fly.

    This has not been a fact for nearly a decade, since ultra-fast microcameras in a mini-wind tunnel captured the vortex formation in the bee’s wing swivel.

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March00/APS_wang.hrs.html

    Another is knowing that Dar es Salaam is the capital of Tanganyika.

    If there were such a nation with such a capital.

    However, the capital of Tanzania is Dodoma.

    I suggested to Michael the term “retromeme”.

    By the way, I highly advise y’all that if, as a teenager, one were to have written renown film-critic Judith Crist a letter pointing out her ignorance of “protein-based logic circuits”, one should not misspell that word as “ignorence”. :>)

    A salient and invaluable lesson should she have written a scathing response.

    JJB

  60. I just say the fact that you don’t have pointy objects sticking out of you is proof that I’m not being hostile.

    Of course there’s no guarantee I won’t become hostile.

  61. I can’t have an opinion because the second part ate my brain. The editor in me wants to fix it to be about half as long and with much much better sentence structure *grin*

    Studies have shown that the more ignorant or incapable a person is, the harder it is for him to accurately evaluate his own competence/knowledge. Go figure.

  62. I have always explained to my students that ignorance equates as a lack of knowledge and is curable with information. Stupidity is generally described as deliberately refusing to, or blithely ignoring self-ignorance. Ignorance is curable with the application of knowledge, (although this has to be aimed at a receptive, not hostile audience) whereas affecting stupidity is attempting to and generally failing to change a mind set IE. close-mindedness. As previously stated “You can’t fix stupid!”is not always true, sometimes it depends on the approach. Playing to a hostile audience is an exercise in futility, where as sucking the audience into receptiveness is an art.
    Dave

  63. One of the main benefits of being a librarian is that I can tell someone they don’t know what they’re talking about and they’ll actually believe me, if only because they were just shushed by a librarian. Little do they know that 99.9% of the time even I don’t know what I’m talking about. And so it goes.

  64. re @29 – as soon as you find yourself devolving into a rant about Kids These Days and How Coddled They Are, Not Like Us, you can immediately put yourself into the ignorant-blather column column and check in for remedial anti-fogery treatments. I mean, really.

  65. here’s another layer to consider – the meaning(s) of the word ‘ignorance’

    1) uninformed – capable of understanding the concept but lacking facts (unexposed to certain facts, unaware of certain facts’ existance)

    2) in a state of ignoring the facts- perhaps capable of understanding the concept – but refuses to ‘believe’ certain facts or actively ignores certain facts (often for political/religious reasons) – listen to AM radio conservative commentators commenting on global warming, evolution etc. A.K.A pigheaded, willfully ignorant, dogmatic, willfully conflates ‘truthiness’ for the truth.

    3) not capable of understanding the concept because of cultural context

    4) stupid – (colloquial/ implied) – incapable of understanding the concept due to mental defect.

    now when you say ” someone is ignorant” if you mean “lacking a datum” = definition 1 BUT if you mean that the ignorance is part of there personality = definition 2

    example – The people who run the Creation Museum are ignorant of science/reality

  66. John — I just read the post that you’re referring to.

    I stopped reading that particular blog for the same reason. He’s an ignorant, arrogant blowhard who thinks he speaks for the SF community. I got bored very quickly with his 12th grade English style of “finding fault = good criticism.”

    Slagging something very worthwhile based on ignorance is just lazy writing, but when you’re caught in the act and then refuse to learn from your mistake… Well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it.

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