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Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance? 823

Posted by timothy
from the wait-for-it-wait-for-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Like some Slashdot users, I began attending university last month for computer science. The experience represents my first time away from home and I'm almost constantly with my peers, many of whom are also computer science students. Recently, I have become cognizant of the many negative opinions associated with a 'normal' person's perspective of what a nerd is like. Conversing with my college computer science peers (many of whom are quite nerdy), I have noticed that many of them are extremely arrogant. Upon introspection, I have come to the realization that I am also very similar to them and am very curious, but worried. I have noticed similar personality characteristics on Slashdot. Where does this nerd arrogance come from? How can it be rectified? I am concerned that, if I do not abolish these annoying tendencies, I may have trouble later on in life with my career and relationships. Has anybody run into problems in life with the arrogance that seems to be so prevalent with nerds? If so, how did you handle the situation?"
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Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance?

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:01AM (#41765829)

    I'm pretty sure that's not unique to CS students. If you think arrogance is a trait only CS majors have, head over to a 500-level philosophy class sometime and talk to some of those majors. Hell, go to pretty much *any* high level class in *any* major.

    The problem isn't the major, the problem is the combination of youth and a little knowledge. Most 21-year-olds are just knowledgeable enough to be cocky, but not knowledgeable enough to appreciate the fact that they really don't know shit. I believe Socrates observed this phenomenon even in his time, and commented on it. "Stop being such cocky pricks! You don't even appreciate how dumb a bunch of shits you are yet, you little fuckers!" he would tell his students (I paraphrase the Greek).

    No worries, though. Ultimately, life will fix the problem.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:06AM (#41765933)

      Said far better than I ever could :)

      I will add that part of the reason that you are cocky because most of the people you have dealt with to this point in life have probably been idiots. This will change when you get an entry-level job where you are the idiot among your peers. The good news is that some of the best (and most humble) engineers that I work with now were UNBELIEVABLY cocky right out of MIT/Cornell/etc. On the other hand, some of them stayed cocky :)

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:21AM (#41766279)

        Part of it is a lot of geeks cut their teeth in the industry by dealing with level 0 or level 1 phone support.

        There, you get the people who oftentimes have no clue what they are doing, but yet have an attitude. This is a perfect ground for breeding the "I'm smarter than you" aura. After a certain amount of calls of "I just pulled the DIMMs out of this box and put them into this other... now why isn't my RAM drive working?", one has to deal with it some way.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:38AM (#41766609) Homepage

        Agreed.

        I would add that this really isn't too painfully specific to any profession or major. Anyone here ever perused listings on an online dating site? A ridiculously high percentage of them (by my very scientific sampling) spend time talking about how smart they are, and how they just can't stand "stupid people".

        Or perhaps you've heard the saying about 75% of people think they're above average? I'm sure there's a real study behind that, somewhere, but it strikes a chord for all of us, either way. ;)

        So yeah, most of us are probably a little too generous with our self image. If it's not, "I'm really, really, ridiculously good looking"*, then it's probably, "I'm really, really clever." Maybe that's just healthy and normal.

        * I hope you read that in a Zoolander voice.

      • by heckler95 (1140369) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:08PM (#41767159)
        Go Big Red!

        Seriously though, I think almost all engineers go through a similar progression. Spend high school overachieving (probably at the expense of social development), work hard and get into a great college, get knocked down a peg when you realize that you're either somewhere in the meaty part of the curve among other prospective engineers, or that you'll actually need to *try* in order to get that A for the first time in your life... once you do succeed (or maybe just fail to fail) you graduate college thinking you're ready to take on the world... enter the business world and realize that the fancy education you paid so much for is only good enough to get your foot in the door...come to the realization that respect is earned by experience and demonstrated value... spend a few years building up credibility and expertise, then realize that being a manager (or director, or VP, etc.) requires some serious people skills (remember all those parties and extracurricular activities you skipped in high school in favor of hacking and video games?) and either choose to stay on the individual contributor path and hone your skills to guru level or take the plunge and start educating yourself (both formally and informally) in how to effectively manage a bunch of cocky engineers.

        That's my story in a nutshell, and I think there are probably quite a few people out there who can relate. The cyclical nature of it is somewhat poetic. Just when you think you've reached the summit, you're finally able to see the next peak.
        • by jmerlin (1010641) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:00PM (#41768097)

          I will recount my experience.

          Spend high school overachieving (probably at the expense of social development)

          I didn't overachieve in High School because I realized how pointless an effort that was. There were only 2 things I cared about in High School, and that was Computer Science and Math. I realized this by about grade 5.. At that time, there was a little orange book called "Games in Basic" on my teacher's bookshelf. I picked it up and started reading it one day and was fascinated (we had a PC with Windows 3.1 and I could easily boot into DOS and code up basic games). She saw me reading it and said "I bought that thinking kids might like it but nobody but you has ever read it, so you can have it if you want." So I took it home and went through all of the exercises in it (just basic word games, input a number/word, output a response, etc). At that point I was hooked. When we finally upgraded to Windows 95/98, I started playing around in VB, eventually installing my father's copy of VC and learning C. This is where my time not in school was spent (split between that and playing games). I quickly realized I enjoyed this more than just about anything else, and so I did it. I taught myself VB then C then x86. By the time I could actually take a CS course in High School I was a junior, and it was an entry-level Java course. I still learned things -- data structures and some algorithms, but the majority of the syntax and other things I was quite familiar with already. Of those two categories I cared about, I maintained a 95%+ average. I didn't apply myself in History, English, other sciences, or any of the nonsensical electives we had to take. I saw no reason to, and I didn't care that I was just outside the top 10% mark in my school, nobody I knew was as good at Math or CS as me, so as far as I was concerned, I was the valedictorian. When I later spoke with people in the top 1% including the actual valedictorian, the arrogance they exuded was astonishing, as if they had accomplished something worthwhile.

          work hard and get into a great college, get knocked down a peg when you realize that you're either somewhere in the meaty part of the curve among other prospective engineers, or that you'll actually need to *try* in order to get that A for the first time in your life

          I didn't work hard to get in a great college, but I still managed to, even with my crappy GPA (something like 3.4 in HS), get a scholarship to a local university. I really wanted to go to Stanford or MIT, but the money just wasn't there, and a huge student loan wasn't something I could justify. So I majored in CS, an obvious choice, and figured that this 4-year degree would do nicely in the real world, where experience is more important anyway. I realized pretty quickly that the CS curriculum there wasn't challenging. I could read through the texts and learn what a course would teach me in a few days, and would end up bored sitting in a course going at a snail's pace for the rest of the semester. On the other hand, math courses were actually quite challenging. So 3 semesters in I switched from CS major to Math major and still took the interesting CS courses in my electives (compilers, AI, operating systems, etc). The math courses were a fair bit more difficult, especially more abstract courses, but the only time I actually had to really try to get a decent grade was when I finally started taking graduate courses. There's just too much information to keep in one's head to fully understand why a proof is valid (it doesn't just span that chapter in that book, nor even that entire book, but rather the past 3 years of courses of abstraction). Needless to say, in my spare time, I was still hacking around in CS and my brain was already prioritizing CS-useful math (including things like Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Probability, etc), but the rest was reserved for actual CS work, so I wasn't to interested in pursuing an M.S. in math. No CS c

          • by heckler95 (1140369) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:10PM (#41769197)
            It sounds like you were able to avoid some of the more common pitfalls. Kudos on that. I was always pretty sure I'd stay on the individual contributor path, climbing the technical ladder and writing code for the rest of my career... until I wasn't. At one point, I got a taste of management and became hooked. It rivaled the feeling I got 20+ years ago when I wrote my first program in AppleSoft BASIC and filled up the screen with random colored boxes... I felt like a master of the universe. As much as I have enjoyed commanding electrons to do my bidding, leading a team of talented individuals and pushing them to exceed their perceived/self-imposed limitations, and accomplish something as a team that you never could have done yourself, has also been very rewarding and pushes me to expand my expertise beyond my comfort zone. Now that I only really write code for fun, I think I enjoy it even more than I did when I was getting paid for it.

            The other day, I came across a site, http://www.nand2tetris.org/ [nand2tetris.org] that is a free course on computer architecture. In it, you build up a computer system from simple Nand gates, up through an ALU, CPU, Memory, and then the entire software stack, from machine code, assembly (via an assembler), high-level code via a compiler, etc. I took a course like this in college and it was another great "Aha!" moment for me where the connection between software and hardware (and eventually the basic physics of semiconductors) all came together for me. It was great to work through the hardware part of this course again (I got through it in an afternoon, but I was pretty addicted once I started). Give it a look, I think you'll enjoy it.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:03PM (#41770025)

            I don't think I have a lot of arrogance these days.

            Are you sure, because this is the most arrogant post in the thread.

            I didn't overachieve in High School because I realized how pointless an effort that was.

            I didn't apply myself in History, English, other sciences, or any of the nonsensical electives we had to take. I saw no reason to

            as far as I was concerned, I was the valedictorian.

            as if they had accomplished something worthwhile

            You seem to be doing a good job of feeling superior to all the people who chose to apply themselves in school, or who didn't need to apply themselves to do well. You don't seem to make the connection that your choice to blow off most of high school probably impacted your ability to get a scholarship to MIT or Stanford, and thus drove you get an education at a place where you admit "the CS curriculum there wasn't challenging".

            I was lucky enough to be correct when it came to my educational choices: the school doesn't matter, and after a few years, your experience trumps it anyway

            Since you don't know what you would have learned or who you would have collaborated with at MIT or Stanford, it's probably difficult to make this evaluation. However I do agree that a solid local school is a great education opportunity for millions of people.

            I don't think there's a "fix" for it, other than letting someone eventually figure it out.

            I agree completely to this statement. Good luck.

          • by Rakarra (112805) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @06:53PM (#41772305)

            I didn't apply myself in History, English, other sciences, or any of the nonsensical electives we had to take. I saw no reason to, and I didn't care that I was just outside the top 10% mark in my school, nobody I knew was as good at Math or CS as me, so as far as I was concerned, I was the valedictorian. When I later spoke with people in the top 1% including the actual valedictorian, the arrogance they exuded was astonishing, as if they had accomplished something worthwhile.

            This is hilarious. Does this count as cognitive dissonance?
            Are we being trolled? It's great, I wish I could favorite this post.
            It should have been modded +1, Funny. The +1 Insightful mods are just disturbing.

            I also have made a decision already, and that's to never become a manager. I don't want to manage people, I want to be an engineer.

            I was always a programmer. I was a good organizer, I ran computer labs at school. The last quarter I was promoted to be a manager. Horrible horrible.
            Engineers, programmers, etc, often don't make good managers. They're different skillsets. Plus, if you really like tinkering, hacking, programming, you just get a hell of a lot less time to do that as a manager.

            Once I graduated and got a real job, I made sure "manager" was not one of my goals.

    • by jhoegl (638955) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:07AM (#41765955)
      IMO, rectify it with logic.
      Ask them about a medical issue they wont know, or perhaps a plumbing problem.
      Then tell them, well it is a good thing there are people smart in these areas. If it dawns on them that everyone has their place in society, they will dismount their pedestal.
      • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:34AM (#41766521)

        IMO, rectify it with logic.
        Ask them about a medical issue they wont know, or perhaps a plumbing problem.

        Then you get the Sheldon Cooper effect whereby they dismiss the information as trivial and/or uninteresting. Never underestimate the extent of youth and arrogance.

    • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:10AM (#41766025)

      No worries, though. Ultimately, life will fix the problem.

      Usually not too soon after graduation. There's something humbling about filing dozens of job applications only to get one or no offers. :P

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:15AM (#41766155)

      I'm pretty sure that's not unique to CS students.

      It isn't unique to CS, but it is more pronounced. I think it is because with CS there is a bigger dichotomy between people that "get it' and people that are just inherently incapable of the complex abstract reasoning needed for programming. Additionally, CS tends to attract people more comfortable dealing with "things" than with people, so they often lack the social skills to temper their arrogance when it is inappropriate.

    • I believe Socrates observed this phenomenon even in his time, and commented on it. "Stop being such cocky pricks! You don't even appreciate how dumb a bunch of shits you are yet, you little fuckers!" he would tell his students (I paraphrase the Greek).

      He did, actually... well, Plato did, through the character Socrates in Apology. "The first step to enlightenment was the realization that I knew nothing."

    • by MrSenile (759314)

      No worries, though. Ultimately, life will fix the problem.

      Except when you're an upper manager of a large corporation or a CEO.

      They never seem to learn, and they tend to turn around saying at 20+ million a year, they don't have to either.

      The only ones who suffer are those poor bastards working under them.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:21AM (#41766273)

      As you say, high level people in almost any major display a level of arrogance--it's not just the young. Professors do this, doctors do it, lawyers do it, etc. All of those are highly professional people to whom arrogance cannot simply attributed to youth or inexperience. In many ways, it doesn't just wear off. Life doesn't just "fix" it. You'll find many a medical doctor who is an arrogant prick and just awful to deal with.

      The issue, at its core, is not the arrogance itself. All of us have some level of arrogance. It's essential to any working person: if someone challenges your work, you need to have the confidence to defend it and back it up when that is warranted. Of course, the difference between arrogance and confidence is a fine line: it's arrogant to presume you are always right but confidence when you actually are right. If someone walks in and says "Your airplane design is ok, but let's take off the wings," it's not arrogance to argue that your design is good because you are correct. If someone says, "I think if we make [minor change] we can improve the design a bit," dismissing the comment without looking into it would be arrogance.

      So what is my point with all this? It's not the arrogance, it's the social skills that matter. Nerd-types often lack in this department because they spend much of their time dealing with machines and ideas--and when they do interact with other people, it's often people of the same type. The passion nerds often see as a positive is detrimental to their interaction with people who are not as hardcore. For example, if someone says, "I just got these Bose speakers and they're awesome!" an audiophile-nerd type might instantly respond with "Pfft. Bose is crap!" and chide that person for the purchase he is enjoying. Social skills enter here: it's perfectly fine to think that buying Bose is stupid. But there's no reason to ruin someone else's enjoyment. It does you no good, and it does him no good: he's not going to replace his new speakers because you said so. Let that person live in ignorance. If he asks you for an opinion or suggests that you should replace your B&W's with Bose, THEN you can rail on Bose (but take it easy).

      That's the difference: nerds sometimes lack the social skills to deal with their arrogance. They carry it into settings where it is unwelcome, like in my Bose example. It's a perfectly appropriate argument to have in a sound studio with other people who are obsessed with speakers. It's inappropriate to have it at your uncle's Christmas party. In classroom settings, the line is a bit more blurred: nerd-types think that everyone in there lives and dies for the course material like they do, but some of those people are just there to pick up a trick or two, or because the degree requirements make them be there, and they're really more interested in another field (e.g., an engineer who has to take intro programming but wants to do radio communication work).

      It is this that causes problems, not the arrogance itself. To the very OP, I'd say that merely acknowledging your problem is an enormous first step. Social skills are not terribly hard to acquire. Just think a bit before you act or speak and that will go a long way.

    • by Gorobei (127755) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:25AM (#41766367)

      The problem isn't the major, the problem is the combination of youth and a little knowledge. Most 21-year-olds are just knowledgeable enough to be cocky, but not knowledgeable enough to appreciate the fact that they really don't know shit.

      The major has a lot to do with it. CS (and IT) give rapid feedback on being right or wrong: those who tend to be right all the time often get cocky. This is fine until they think that because they are right about CS/IT, they are right about everything. Being in the top 1% of tech wizards doesn't make you an expert in politics or telling jokes, etc: this is where people get a reputation for arrogance or cringe-worthy ineptness.

      Wall Street used to joke about "dentists from New Jersey:" a class of intelligent technical people who would confuse their specialist knowledge and track records of accruing money with general expertise in investing. They were the dumping ground for the worst financial toxic waste that banks needed to get off their books.

      • by McSnickered (67307) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:07PM (#41767137)

        I usually ignore the "Ask Slashdot"'s, but this one really resonated with me...

        25 years ago as a college freshman, I went in with a thirst for knowledge and above average ability in math/sciences. I had also been involved in competetive athletics since 7th grade. My college freshman experience was that there was more chest-thumping and overt general nastiness in my physics and calculus classes than I had ever experienced in athletics. Trying to get help in the computer science lab first required getting talked down to by the lab's equivilent of Comic Book Guy.

        It was a HUGE turnoff. I ended up changing my major to a non-tech field which was a mistake. It turned out OK for me though - I graduated, got a job, found that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped, went back to graduate school in a technical field and had a great experience (no chest-thumping this time, people seemed to have grown up), and got into a career that I really enjoy.

        Yes there are jerks everywhere, but I found "nerd arrogance" to be particularly annoying. I think that as you get through the weeding-out classes you'll have a better experience.

    • No worries, though. Ultimately, life will fix the problem.

      Yeah, but it will fix it through pain, you might want to avoid that if you can.

      If I were in this situation, I would start by looking for the good in everyone. Everyone has a good side, and usually they are not dumb, they just have different priorities than you.

      As the parent mentioned, you're not so smart. There's more important stuff you don't know than stuff you do.

      Consider an analogy to a body builder. Usually he's strong enough that he could take any random person on the street and punch him in th

    • by rtkluttz (244325) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:35AM (#41766543) Homepage

      Its not always what it seems. Some people have extra sensitve arrogance alarms. I think in a large portion of the cases, people with a degree TECHNICAL skill feel less of a need to participate in politics. This gives the illusion of arrogance when it actually is not. A technical wizard in some area is likely to say 1) xxx is what I believe. 2) yyy is why I believe that. Beyond that, there is no discussion that will change anything unless the other party proves yyy is incorrect. They have no interest in discussing why they should ACT as if xxx is not true unless it is actually proven to not be true. Prove otherwise the geek will likely say "Awesome" and move on to the next thing. Its not arrogance, its fact until proven otherwise and you can take it or leave.
      TLDR: Facts or GTFO

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      If you think arrogance is a trait only CS majors have, head over to a 500-level philosophy class sometime and talk to some of those majors. Hell, go to pretty much *any* high level class in *any* major.

      You're (currently) modded +5 'insightful' - but actually, you're pretty much clueless because you're comparing apples to catfish. The author is a *freshman*. He's taking *100* level classes. And he's correct, many (if not virtually all) 'nerds' and CS majors have an unwarranted arrogance - and it extends b

    • by RandomUsername99 (574692) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:49AM (#41766809)

      <my opinion>
      The type of arrogance is quite different. The philosophy student might be more overconfident in the reasoning behind their opinions, but it comes across as aloofness, rather than the aggressive a need to put other people down that many socially feral nerds have. It's the very reason that I won't attend any of the local *n*x user groups, or anything of that sort. There are only so many "loudest nerd wins" type arguments over pedantic, trite issues I can sit through, when they should be having reasonable and friendly discussions and sharing knowledge... building a community rather than a weekly assembly of petty arguments.

      This is especially apparent to female students, as they often bear the brunt of these tendencies.

      I work in a large university, and through some basic empirical research, I can tell you that the general *perception* here is that both engineering and CS majors have the largest percentage of arrogant, dismissive, and socially clueless students. In my experience, the near opposite is true with professors. I find professors of the humanities to often be extremely aggressively arrogant, and technical professors to be pretty nice.

      My theory is that many of these students, who are naturally interested in technology, would quite likely be active in either online forums/chat, or online gaming, which both tend to be socially aggressive environments that do not always favor reason and humility, and quite possibly would have gleaned a lot of bad social habits from those environments. This is probably also the case with the people that they tend to hang out with.

      Now that we're generalizing, I found engineering and CS students that I can happily converse with far more frequently than business school students.
      </my opinion>

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:01AM (#41765835)

    Everyone in the universe gets that. Nerd arrogance comes from the basic insecurities that all “not normal” people have. The more you love math and science the further you'll be from people who live for the next episode of Jersey Shore.

    The insecurity is addressed by the assumption that being great at computers/math/science means you don't have to be good at all those other “human” skills. But as Admrial Akbar will remind you: “It's a Trap!” If you're an amazing nerd, people will put up with your crappy attitude at work, but if your kind, decent, patient nerd, people will beg their bosses to have you on their team.

    I have 50 square feet of window, can see a full third of the skyline, take long lunches and get to design super computing clusters, and this job is more due to my people skills than nerdy ones. I design AI algorithms on the weekend when I need extra-nerd time.

    To your worry about being corrupted by nerdfluence, “It all comes down to choice.” I recommend:

    Read XKCD to be reminded that you're not alone, and you don't have to be a jerk to be nerd.

    Keep in mind that we were all beginners once. You may not have been a beginner since you were 11, but there was a time when it was all new and intimidating. Whether someone is 11 or 55 doesn't change much, and at 11 your job didn't depend on you getting it right the first time.

    The people who had a date for prom, and fix cars, and cook well were no different from you when you were a computer beginner. Dateless people who have to cook for themselves, and fix their own cars may get to call themselves Independent, but they have missed the fundamental advantage of living in a society. Being a decent human, you don't have to have every existing skill, and can instead focus on being a more proficient nerd. It's a trap worth avoiding.

    YMMV

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#41765973)

      Don't forget also: nerds have had to exist their ENTIRE LIVES in an educational system designed to move at the pace of the slowest fucking retard.

      When they were finished with the 2nd grade reading material, most of their peers were barely 1/4 through.
      While their peers were struggling with multiplication, they were chafing at the bit to move through long division or onto something really fun like geometry.

      Not only that, the "insecurities" are founded further by a society that, while they were excelling academically, were busy worshiping the sub-par IQ thugs from the football and assketball teams who will mostly grow up to be in and out of jail. So for doing the things society told them (verbally) to do, they were then derided while those who acted in opposite manner were rewarded.

      "If you're an amazing nerd, people will put up with your crappy attitude at work, but if your kind, decent, patient nerd, people will beg their bosses to have you on their team."

      Hint: if nerds had been treated decently and given the ability to operate on their own pace during the screwal system, we'd probably have a lot more kind, decent, patient nerds. The school system trains them to be defensive and constantly beats them over the head not just with the fact that others move on a slower pace, but that they will be held back to that pace.

      To quote Quicksilver (from Marvel Comics): "It's like standing in the slowest line in the world, ALL THE TIME."

  • by boristdog (133725) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:03AM (#41765869)

    Shut up, N00b.

  • by drwho (4190) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:03AM (#41765885) Homepage Journal

    After living for many years in Cambridge, I have become accustomed to this attitude. I want to make a T-shirt "I act like I am smarter than you because I am. I go to MIT".

    • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:47AM (#41766775)

      After living for many years in Cambridge, I have become accustomed to this attitude. I want to make a T-shirt "I act like I am smarter than you because I am. I go to MIT".

      "...and can't read." :-)

      The full joke from which that came involved somebody in the "10 items or less" line in a supermarket in Central Square (roughly halfway between Harvard and MIT, although a bit closer to MIT), where somebody's explanation was "either they went to MIT and can't read or went to Harvard and can't count". Not entirely fair, as you can get a literature degree from MIT [mit.edu] and you can get an engineering degree [harvard.edu] or a science degree [harvard.edu] from Harvard.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      After living for many years in Cambridge, I have become accustomed to this attitude. I want to make a T-shirt "I act like I am smarter than you because I am. I go to MIT".

      I act like I am smarter than you because I am. I went to the other Cambridge.

    • Back in ancient times they year started with the Freshman Picnic in the Great Court. Most of us were turned off by strangers trying to impress each other with their intellectual exploits. The final nail in coffin was when average score on the first physics test was like 50%. Few MIT students had ever seen less than a 90 in their lives. Or when your dorm throws a party and no women from neighboring colleges come (worse than the Social Network movie).
  • Easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:06AM (#41765925)
    The key is to realise that even if you *are* smarter than everyone else, they'll be more cooperative if you let them maintain their delusion of equality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nerds aren't necessarily smarter, they're just smarter about different things. One reason why, IMO, nerds are so unpopular is because they are particularly *bad* at non-formal communication and socialization. These are skills which require huge computational resources to deal with with multiple channels of information (word inflection, nonverbal signaling, contextual cues), which are noisy, non-discrete, infused with multiple layers of meaning, and often incomplete. Dynamically modeling another person's

    • by westlake (615356) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:49AM (#41766815)

      The key is to realise that even if you *are* smarter than everyone else, they'll be more cooperative if you let them maintain their delusion of equality.

      "Their delusion of equality."

      Yeah, right.

      Like that bone-deep arrogance and sense of superiority you can barely force yourself to hide won't be seen in your face from a mile off.

  • by AvailableNickname (2627169) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:07AM (#41765943)
    I too noticed nerd arrogance in myself and my peers when I started at university. It bothered me a little bit. When I was done with university I went for a graduate somewhere else, and brought my nerd arrogance with me. But here, it was justified. The people around me were actual computer illiterates, despite being in technology-oriented environment and courses. It only got worse when I took a job as an IT gnome, and I REALLY started to see all the shenanigans the stupidity of some people can cause. Arrogance comes from thinking that you're better than people around you. Sometimes it's actually true.
    • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:35AM (#41766549)

      When I was done with university I went for a graduate somewhere else, and brought my nerd arrogance with me.
      It only got worse when I took a job as an IT gnome, and I REALLY started to see all the shenanigans the stupidity of some people can cause.
      Arrogance comes from thinking that you're better than people around you. Sometimes it's actually true.

      Can you say this about yourself in a variety of other situations? How about at a dance club? Or maybe attending a potluck or cookout?

      If you ever had to be in a situation outside of your comfort zone, would you be afraid of the same judgement? Because many well-adjusted people aren't afraid of being judged for being bad at things outside of their wheelhouse. That's a huge part of the definition of being well-adjusted.

      You are the type of person OP is trying to avoid becoming. The fact that you are looking down on others, and drawing pride from something as stupid as technology as a justification, shows the type of petty person that the aforementioned overdeveloped "nerd arrogance" can actually produce.

      Get some laid and calm down!

    • Arrogance comes from thinking that you're better than people around you.

      Knowing how to use computers doesn't make you better than other people.

    • by CokoBWare (584686) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:54AM (#41766899)

      Arrogance is never justified. This is why it's never seen as a positive trait in people. Arrogance puts yourself and all of what you are in front of EVERYONE else. Arrogance is NEVER confidence.

      My beliefs:
      - Arrogance is not a virtue. Arrogance alienates you from people.
      - Humility is a virtue. Humility brings us closer to people.

      Be confident yet humble, and people will follow you to the ends of the Earth...

  • Humility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joehonkie (665142) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:07AM (#41765949) Homepage
    Having the humility to admit you have a problem like that is the first step, so you've probably got a good head start right there. Just think to yourself when you want to say something smart, "Will I sound like a prick if I say this (this way)?" I usually forget that part...
  • by concealment (2447304) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#41765967) Homepage Journal

    I have noticed that many of them are extremely arrogant...I have noticed similar personality characteristics on Slashdot. Where does this nerd arrogance come from?

    In literature, this type of arrogance is attributed to bureaucrats and technicians.

    The reason is that they are masters of the machine, whether a political/paperwork machine or the literal machine.

    This gives a lot of power to someone, but it's all negative power. They have the power to say no, or to wreck things, but don't yet (or perhaps never will) have the power to create.

    I think you will find that, on Slashdot and in the world, those who have actual power (more than negation) tend to be confident, proud and perhaps "arrogant," but not in the way a lot of internet users are.

    The people who are most arrogant in the way you describe are the frustrated ones who have a lack of options, and to compensate, create an inflated sense of self-importance which they refresh by imposing their will on others.

    It's no different than any other kind of power abuse. Some fields (law enforcement, computing, bureaucracy) tend to attract more of these people than other fields do.

  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#41765969) Homepage Journal

    Has anybody run into problems in life with the arrogance that seems to be so prevalent with nerds? If so, how did you handle the situation?

    Easy, I just stopped hanging out with so many people who were wrong all the time.

  • Self reflection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Evil Atheist (2484676) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#41765979) Homepage
    I think you've stumbled upon the answer: you are being self-reflecting. I find a lot of nerds aren't self-reflecting. They question everything but themselves and it's up to everyone else to prove them wrong, otherwise they must be right.

    Mind you, anyone who is arrogant probably has not done any self-reflecting either, or believe they don't need to do any self-reflecting.
  • by hort_wort (1401963) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:09AM (#41766019)

    Step 1: Use smaller, more popular words when speaking. Be happy that you can communicate with the largest number of people that way instead of just an elite group. I'm just too lazy to look up "cognizant". :P

    Step 2: Don't give advice to people in a slightly insulting way.

    Step 3: .... oops.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:10AM (#41766021)
    In our industry a bit of arrogance isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it can come across to people as you are confident, either in your ability or your knowledge of a certain thing, even if you have little knowledge of it, if you act like you do and are confident (or slightly arrogant) it can help you through.
  • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:11AM (#41766055)

    Arrogance is universal. Jocks are arrogant because they're jocks. Nerds are arrogant because they think they're smarter than everyone else. (A couple of them even are smarter than everyone else, but not that many of us are as smart as we think.)

    Recognizing your arrogance is the first step, as they say. Pay attention to the things you say and people's reactions to them. The only way to fix it is to recognize the specific instances where you come off as arrogant and change the behavior then and there. Apologize for it when you realize your arrogance has offended someone.

    Also, spend time around people from all different backgrounds and majors. Don't just hang out with people like you. It will help a lot.

    • by asliarun (636603)

      Arrogance is universal. Jocks are arrogant because they're jocks. Nerds are arrogant because they think they're smarter than everyone else. (A couple of them even are smarter than everyone else, but not that many of us are as smart as we think.)

      Recognizing your arrogance is the first step, as they say. Pay attention to the things you say and people's reactions to them. The only way to fix it is to recognize the specific instances where you come off as arrogant and change the behavior then and there. Apologize for it when you realize your arrogance has offended someone.

      Also, spend time around people from all different backgrounds and majors. Don't just hang out with people like you. It will help a lot.

      I once read somewhere that a superiority complex usually arises from an inferiority complex. Something else I remember is that "we despise most in others that which we hate in ourselves". As I get older and come across more instances of arrogance and humility, I realized that these statements usually hold true even if they sound a bit glib.

      This is not just true for ignorance but true for most vices and weaknesses, in my experience. If you find yourself having a really strong reaction at some quirk or weakne

  • drugs can help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmacs27 (1314285) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:12AM (#41766077)
    But the good kind of drugs like LSD and Mushrooms. Coke will make it worse (although it can help with the complementary problem "nice guy syndrome").
  • by bogidu (300637) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#41766191)

    ego often fades with age when you realize the pitiful skills you have are no better than those of a banker, lawyer, doctor, or anyone else that truly knows their shit. On the other hand, you could just be a raging asshole, those exist in any field of study.

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#41766203)

    I really don't mean to sound arrogant here, but let's not confuse arrogance with confidence.

    And to prove my point, go stand around a water cooler. Any water cooler.

    What do you think lawyers talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who try and represent themselves.

    What do you think CPAs talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're bean counters.

    What do you think engineers talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're MSEEs.

    And finally, what do you think nerds talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're IT experts.

    Yes, perhaps some of the time it can be construed as pure arrogance and attitude. But most of the time, it's simply confidence among experts in their respective fields.

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:22AM (#41766291)

    It is easy to hold other people in contempt when you only play to your own natural talents. If you have an aptitude for math, for example, that others do not it can be easy to think they're lazy, stupid, or not worthy of respect when you see them struggle. If, having this aptitude, most activities in your life revolve around math it is all too easy to become deluded and arrogant.

    Find something you're bad at and struggle. Find something for which you have no natural talent and learn what it means to learn from others. I'm not saying switch your major or career choices. On these you should naturally play toward your strengths because that's why you have them. But if you're not good with, say, physical activities, or visual and creative arts, or music, or language, then take on one of these as a hobby. Take your two left feet dancing, pick up a martial art, play tennis, take a course in poetry, learn a language, try an instrument, take up woodworking. Most importantly, stick with it weekly, especially when it gets hard. It will make you a better person, help you to understand (and indeed to teach) others when they struggle and, almost as importantly, it will teach you how to be confident at what you're good at without being filled with pride and arrogance.

  • Because it's been my experience that "normal" people don't talk like that. I know it's a perfectly legitimate English word, but I've met no end of people who find that people who use longer words when a shorter one would do (eg: "fix") are being snobbish, or trying to talk down to people who might not be as familiar with the term.
  • Halfway There (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:24AM (#41766333)

    Congratulations! You're in the process of joining the human race by displaying a sense of self-awareness and an awareness of other's feelings! You've already solved half the problem simply by noticing that you're acting like an arrogant jerk. Next step: When you notice you're about to say or do something arrogant or jerk-like just invoke Wheaton's Law [ruleoftheinternet.com].

    Where does it come from: As for where it comes from it is pretty easy to see. Most hardcore nerds spent their youth getting picked and teased for being hardcore nerds. Get them into a field in which most people still regard as Voodoo/High Wizardry (Come on, you have to admit that even though people in general are more familiar with tech now most of them are fairly ignorant of how anything tech-related actually works. This is not a dig against anyone, it is simply a statement that most individuals don't know or care how a given piece of tech works, just that it does.) and it is easy to see how a level of arrogance might develop.

    Rectifying it (Issue status - Won't Fix): Luckily this is a self-rectifying problem. Once said arrogant jerks get out into the real world most of them will go through the post-grad school of hard knocks. No one wants to work with an arrogant jerk. A lot of them will either self-correct their behavior and try to play nice with their co-workers, family, friends, etc. The rest won't have enough self-awareness to see what is causing the problem in the first place and will quickly either be out of a job, spouse, friends, etc. Problem solved either way. I've seen both scenarios play out.

  • A tiny bit of Logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:26AM (#41766373)
    Nerds tend to have more logic and less social understanding. So a nerd might be running a company and say "fire the bottom 10%" this is logical and in theory the correct idea; but they forget that it will freak out the other 90% into thinking they are next and probably be worse than just keeping the useless 10% or at least shedding them in a less efficient but more tactful way.

    Another good example of this is how so many IT departments make rules that treat the employees like children. It is a fact that most employees, at say an insurance company, would cause many disasters given unlimited access to the various company systems. But they often take this fact way too far; extending it to issuing Blackberries that are horribly crippled (no internet access even through wifi) or not letting managers deploy systems for their department. Again this often backfires and results in their employes referring to IT as the department of NO; so the managers and whatnot end run the IT department and outsource things like a sales management system or a new time management system. I experienced this first hand a while back when I was giving a presentation of a system for a company. Early in the presentation the network connection went very weird. The IT head had a shit eating grin on his face. I then switched over to a cellular connection(very rare at the time) and the presentation went smoothly while the IT guy frantically pounded on his keyboard trying to figure out where my internet connection was coming from. It was clearly his goal to keep the work in house. The people who did hire us showed us all kinds of tricks they had to get around IT. This was a major company and these were top guys. The problem was simple they couldn't out logic the IT people; but they could outsmart them.

    The last place that this logic really gets companies in trouble is that IT people become religious about their favorite technology. I have met Windows zelots, linuz zelots, Novell zelots (the worst), Sun zelots, even adabas zelots. Often these people have mastered some technology, been certified up the wazoo, and now have final say in decision making. So some little snot nosed kid comes along and says "Hello you are still using Novell? Time to move on." And poof it is the snot nose who moves on. Can you imagine arguing with someone with 20 years Novell experience under their belt? Even now in 2012 I see companies deploying Novell into new departments.

    BTW Novell gives administrators stunning abilities to control the user experience. There are few better systems for treating the users like infants.
  • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:27AM (#41766393)

    Conversing with my college computer science peers (many of whom are quite nerdy), I have noticed that many of them are extremely arrogant. Upon introspection, I have come to the realization that I am also very similar to them and am very curious, but worried. I have noticed similar personality characteristics on Slashdot. Where does this nerd arrogance come from? How can it be rectified?

    If you're maybe accidentally observing arrogance and social dysfunction in general, and just happen to be surrounded by "nerds" and CS majors due to that being your own major, I'd suggest don't worry about it, because that's just part of growing up.

    If you've genuinely noticed that "nerds" are effectively more pissy than the other social sects that you've hopefully also interacted with (for your own sanity, but also simply for the sake of a control in this experiment), then I posit the following:

    It's basically just an acquired/adaptive defense mechanism that some people develop, based on an entire lifetime (middle school and HS for you guys, but basically a lifetime) of being judged for no apparent reason (yes high school is harsh), while being told by those with authority (teachers, parents, administrative staff, etc.) that you are doing a good (and better than your "peers", relatively) job.

    The worldview eventually evolves into one that comes to expect two things:
    1. People will judge and mock me for no reason
    2. I'm actually better than them

    This leads to the logical conclusion that since a good defense is a strong offense: "I will judge them first, and based on metrics I know are more important, such as computer skills, grades, worldviews, etc." and everyone else will just look and think "lol what an angsty nerd".

    Ultimately though, I still think don't worry about it. If you think "nerds" are bad, try sitting in a room next to third and fourth year English majors desperate to justify the tens of thousands of dollars they've spent to be very very unemployed, and I think you'll see that nerds are relatively well adjusted.

    And finally, best way to fix yourself if there really is an issue? Learn to dance, gain some confidence, get laid. Your past is erased in college if you choose so (hell, some people can look desperate if they choose the opposite). Social constructs disappear, and you'll have a much better chance of people liking you for who you are, rather than judging you for what they see at first glance. But that's only if you give them the chance and don't come off too much like a dickish nerd right off the bat!

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:27AM (#41766405)

    For most Nerds they had a hard time in school with the popular crowd. They may not have been good at sports, or had the best friends, or had the best style of clothing. However they knew more about a particular topic much more than anyone else. In that area of topic such as Computer Science you get recognition of being an Alpha in that area. Right now in history Computer Science is very Male heavy, so all the CS Nerds having gone through High School with their main source of being recognized as Alpha was in their computer skills, they will do so in college.

    Now instead of being humbled with working with a class if rather skilled people the CS students will then specialize more in particular areas, Linux, Windows, GUI, AI, Java... Whatever they feel they can be better then someone else is and excel at it, just so they can still be Alpha in that area.

    Now for non-nerds males will often be Alpha in other areas, but being that they weren't in the bottom class in the social hierarchy in school they are less sensitive to it and do not try as hard to be an Alpha, especially in their academic areas. Also other academic areas have a closer to a 50/50 gender split where the Woman are less apt to show their Alpha qualities, and creating a culture where the proverbial chest thumping is less common.

    In college I minored in Music, I did some focus on Jazz. Now the Jazz Majors were predominantly male too. However, due to the nature of Jazz where the band works as a team, there is less arrogance, however their culture has them competing to be the Jazziest including a lot of Smooth Jive talk (independant of race).

    But Comp-Sci in school is a lot of independent work so there is more of I am better than you. They feel the need to Prove that they are smarter. Now they may not be smarter but they will take that one area where they have more knowledge and but a lot of weight on it.

    To Rectify it? I would say some things we would need to do in the class is more teamwork projects, also have them work on cross department projects with other students who have different areas of interests. A statistical grading software for the education majors so they learn how to track grades, the CS-Developer learns skills of creating analytical programs. Work with Art Majors they do the art, you do the code behind it... Work with foreign languages majors to try to come up with better translation algorithms. That way they are forced to work with people with their own skills, and if you put them in areas where they have no idea about it, they are forced to work with the other students and ask questions, and not just be the one with the answers.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:28AM (#41766429)

    Pick up a copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People".

    Read it.

    Then read it again.

    Then keep it on your bedside and dip into it from time to time.

    It's mostly aimed at salesmen, but the advice it contains is invaluable for people in all walks of life.

  • by CokoBWare (584686) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:41AM (#41766667)

    Why not just be blunt with them and tell them the truth that you find their arrogance offensive?

    Or, you could try the school-yard model: lead by example and be humble and open and good to your peers. If and when someone tries to trample all over you with their arrogance, socially boot-stomp them in public so they learn that they can't just be a fucking douchebag without social consequences.

    Example: My old manager could be highly arrogant and sometimes pious... A coworker snapped one day over a GoToMeeting and yelled at our manager for habitually speaking to him with disdain (which happened all of the time to most people). My manager's tone changed very quickly after that. Very risky move by my old coworker, but it did work out in the end.

  • I'll bite. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fritsd (924429) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:44AM (#41766709) Journal
    I'm going to assume that you're serious, and that you're male, and a student.

    Did you know that half of the human population are women?

    Make friends with the girls studying with you. They may have a slightly different perspective on everything around you.

    Since you're lucky to be a student: go out for a dance every once in a while. Don't give a shit if people laugh at how you dance. Learn to cook well. Be brave: the advice is "do something every day that scares you".

    I'm sure things are a lot better in this century, but I remember having a cow-orker decades ago who had studied computer science at a technical place, and he said with pride that there was one (1) girl in his entire year, and they pestered her so much that she had to leave.
    (Did I mention with happiness that I never studied computer science except as an aside?)

    Good luck living your life to the full!!!!
  • by inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:48AM (#41766781) Homepage

    I don't know if arrogance is more prevalent in nerds than in the general population. I do have the impression that there is an inverse correlation between arrogance and actually being knowledgeable. Generally, the more you know, the more you realize that (1) things tend to be more nuanced than they first appeared, (2) there are a lot of things you don't know (3) there are a lot of areas where others know more than you do. That's one thing.

    The other thing is being interested in other people and getting along with them. Speaking for myself, for a long time, there were a lot of things I was more interested in. At some point, that changed, and I became very interested in how people work and what sorts of things make them happy. I read a few books about this, and "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a classic that I would recommend.

    I've always enjoyed making people happy, and I don't think I've turned away a lot of people by arrogance or other annoying characteristics, but, looking back, I can see that I have definitely improved a lot in how I deal with people. As a result, I am now much happier. It's not just that I have more friends and am receiving signs that they appreciate me more, it's also that this has really helped me get ahead in life. As it turns out, a lot of things in life depend on who you know more than on what you know. And really, dealing with people and making them happy is very rewarding.

    To answer your questions: I think nerd arrogance tends to come from the feeling that they generally know better than other people. You may actually know better. There will also be cases where you are wrong. In either case, it's probably better to be humble about it. Feel honored that someone values your knowledge and considered opinion and asked for your input. Don't present it as the ultimate truth, but say something like "The common way to do that is $technique_that_is_well_known_In_your_circles" or "I think that $something_you_have_concluded_from_observations". That way, the other person can feel that they learned something and draw their own conclusions, rather then having been told the truth by some person who thinks they know it all.

    As for trouble in your career and relationships, yes, that's a very good point. I think most people will encounter trouble in those areas, and getting more knowledge on how to deal with common situations will definitely help you do better than you would just blundering through. Besides "How to Win Friends and Influence People", I can also recommend "Getting to Yes", "Further Up the Organization", and "101 Things I Wish I Knew when I Got Married" (it applies equally well to relationships not involving marriage). Think of it as the nerd approach to life: read the manual, and you will know more and do better than the average person. ;-)

    Finally, the fact that you asked about it shows that you are interested in doing better. That's the most important step. Now that you know you care about this, you have the motivation to work on it. In all honesty, I think this already puts you in a great position to do better than many people. Good job! I hope you find my input helpful. Let me know how it goes!

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:48AM (#41766785)
    You shouldn't worry about it. You already noticed the trait in yourself and that's at least half the battle. A few years of practice at things like explaining your ideas without getting impatient or insulting the other person when they don't get it right away will take care of the other half.
  • by sureshot007 (1406703) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:48AM (#41766787)
    They act like this because it's all they have in life. They never fit in with any other crowds growing up, and now they are actually surrounded by similar people. Together, they amplify their nerdy ways to make it a chosen lifestyle.

    What they fail to realize is that wearing a ribbon cable as a belt will do nothing for you but chase the girls away. And college is the only time you'll be surrounded by easy girls.

    Relax, act like a normal human being. You can be a CS major and still have social skills. You may never be the king geek, but you leave college with the ability to get a job AND a girlfriend.
  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:06PM (#41768173)

    Hang out with jocks. Hang out with arty people. Hang out with punks. Hang out with EVERYONE. Don't limit yourself to just one type of person.

    Hanging out with only one type of person is a recipe for stunting one's social growth, regardless of what that type is.

    When I went to college I made it a point to hang out with different types of people. I joined clubs and did activities that I had never before considered, took classes that were totally outside of my major, and did everything I could to broaden both my social and intellectual life, and I wouldn't trade those experiences and the growth I had for anything.

    So, to answer your question - hang out with lots of different types of people and I guarantee that enough of them will call you on your shit. Spend your time doing things outside your comfort zone and I guarantee that you will be humbled when you realize that you aren't amazing at everything. You'll also have some amazing experiences in the process and become a better person.

  • by Brian Feldman (350) <.gro.DSBeerF. .ta. .neerg.> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:10PM (#41769191)

    Being told you're wrong repeatedly, proving yourself, and getting negative acknowledgment. It's a pretty simple feedback loop for creating arrogant personalities, especially when a lot of nerds are very analytic and passionate; those nerds see average people apparently not thriving in production of useful things, yet thriving socially (or whatever), and there's jealousy to feed the ignorance. The only way to solve any of this is for people to be more honest with themselves and genuine with the world.

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:48PM (#41769759) Homepage Journal

    Don't mistake "self-confidence" for "arrogance", which many people do. There's a difference between believing in yourself and believing other people have nothing to teach you.

    There are lots of things you can do to appear less arrogant to other people, but the first and most important is to become a *disciplined* listener. I stress "discipline" because that's what it takes when you're used to beating other people to the punch. Here are the steps, in order.

    (1) Let the other person finish what he has to say -- beyond any reasonable doubt.
    (2) Demonstrate that you heard everything he had to say.
    (3) Demonstrate you understand everything he had to say.
    (4) Show you recognize whatever truth is in what he had to say. All of the truth you can find. If you can't find any truth, recognize good intentions. If you can't find any good intentions, pretend that they're there anyway.
    (5) Then, only then, give your opinions. Be sure to salt any points of disagreement with admissions of your own fallibility.

    That's how you get people to see you as being as smart as you see yourself. As you can see, it's all about resisting the impulse to smack the buzzer and say "Bzzt! WRONG!"

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