Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Expert's Innate Condescension

Another bug in the human operating system: when you're really good at something, it's very difficult to respect people with intermediate skill. Anyone less than fully proficient seems like a rank beginner.

For example: expert chowhounds might consider someone who slavishly follows his Zagat guide a ditzy know-nothing. But actual no-nothings don't care at all about food. They've never heard of Zagat; they just go to Wendy's. To a wine expert, those who drink super-buttery Chardonnays or vulgarly bombastic Zins are idiots, even while tons of wine drinkers blithely suck down generic boxed wine.

We seem unable to register the fact that just because we're super good at something doesn't mean people who are merely good at that thing are lousy.

Some more bugs (I eagerly await the Humanity 2.0 upgrade):

"Selfishness and Generosity"
The weirdly reversed self-images of selfish and generous people..

"Common Strange Shifts of Perspective"
More weirdly reversed self-images.

"Ceding to the Idiots"
When things get dumb, conscientious people bail, leaving behind an ever-greater proportion of dumbness. By contrast, the idiots, who inherently act from a less high-minded position, always stick around.

"Arrogance is Elective"
We innately assume that arrogance is the inevitable trait of smart, accomplished, distinguished, successful people.

"Kafka Time"
The converse of the previous. If you're not arrogant, it's surprisingly tough to be taken the least bit seriously by anyone.

"'The Age of the Unthinkable' - Why Life May Not Return to Normal"
Humans have the damnedest time grokking cycles. We always expect highs to stay high and lows to stay low.

"Giving Misanthropy Its Due"
Racism, sexism, classism, etc. are nothing more than the incomplete registration of a perfectly appropriate misanthropy.

"Flipping Your Street Smarts"
It's more natural to learn to scan for dark depths than for divine heights, though both faculties are useful.

"Always Talk to the Mask"
Our mythic self-images are remarkably impermeable to contrary evidence.

"Natural Egocentric Dispositions"
Nine ways our natural egocentricity steers us wrong.

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