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Mid-Morning Art Thread [Kris] | Main | Republicans Lose a Bellwether Race in New York's 19th Congressional District, Indicating the Red Wave May Be Losing Power
August 24, 2022

Wednesday Morning Rant [Joe Mannix]


Contemptuous Experts

I had a computer problem this weekend and I needed help. It was an esoteric problem in Linux and so off to the forums I went for assistance. I found what I needed and got the problem solved. The solution was extremely convoluted and non-obvious, requiring a lot of steps and arcane commands. I am familiar with the system and was able to follow along fine and understand what I was doing. This was not the case for everyone.

One new user hitting the same problem I did commented that he found it to be incomprehensible and that anyone coming from a traditional desktop system would be baffled. Why was it so hard? Why was everything surprising? The response of a few other participants was precisely the thing that gives the Linux community a reputation for nastiness - things like "I can type faster than I can click and if you knew what you were doing, you'd find it easier, too, noob!" (not a direct quote)

Some of the forum experts (a small but loud minority) were, in short, openly contemptuous of the unsophisticated new users and were utterly unwilling to listen to any feedback, recommendation or objection. Sound familiar? The holier-than-thou attitude, arrogance, closed ranks, inscrutable influence hierarchy and hostility to outsiders who dare to question them - it is exactly what we've been living through for years from our expert class - except that the forum experts usually know what they're doing. Our expert class doesn't even have that going for it.

When normal people have to interact with our expert class - usually not by choice, but because circumstances demand it - they find themselves confronted with rude, arrogant, contemptuous attitudes that make it clear that the experts hold them in very low regard. Any suggestion or objection from an outsider is rejected without consideration because an outsider could not possibly know anything. The outsider has no value and needs to just comply. They're not experts, so their role is to obey and face humiliation and aggression if they don't.

This is not what breeds trust or confidence. Even if the experts were actually right - which they rarely have been in recent memory, considering their always incorrect assessments of climate change, the economy, COVID, etc. - it does them no good at all. Being right is not enough if people believe - rightly - that you look down on and dismiss them. Being correct does you little good if you're so abrasive and contemptuous that nobody cares to listen to you, but if you have that attitude while also being wrong, it makes people actually actively hate you.

The public experts need to actually be right on occasion, but that's not enough. Their cloistered and insulated mutual admiration society - not to mention their appalling corruption - reinforces the bad and destroys the good. Their ivory towers need to be destroyed. They need to live in the world.

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:06 AM

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