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Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance? 823

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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  • Easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:06PM (#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.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:06PM (#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 AvailableNickname ( 2627169 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:07PM (#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.
  • Humility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joehonkie ( 665142 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:07PM (#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 jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:07PM (#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.
  • Self reflection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:08PM (#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 Mitchell314 ( 1576581 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:10PM (#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 bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:11PM (#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.

  • drugs can help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmacs27 ( 1314285 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:12PM (#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 ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:15PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:21PM (#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 mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:21PM (#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 cervesaebraciator ( 2352888 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:22PM (#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.

  • Halfway There (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLurksAlot ( 1169039 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:24PM (#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 [].

    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.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:27PM (#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 @12:28PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:33PM (#41766513)

    I think that becoming aware of the arrogance is the first step in rectifying it in yourself.

    For me, it took probably until about halfway through my senior year before I realized that everyone I hung out with was an arrogant jerk. And shortly afterwards, I realized that I was one, too. My change was that I started showing respect to others -- even psych majors! -- and stood up for others that my peers belittled. If you do it right, your peers will realize that their behavior is unacceptable.

    I think that correcting my behavior has improved my relationships with others drastically. I can respect people for who they are, rather than seeing them as inferior. We're all human. We all live and we all die. Nobody will get a medal for treating others with contempt, so you might as well quit it right now.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:34PM (#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 XiaoMing ( 1574363 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:35PM (#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!

  • Re:Easy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:35PM (#41766555)

    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 state of mind based upon this sort of "fuzzy" (not in the mathematical sense) information is nontrivial to say the least. Ever try to do parameter-recovery optimization in real time? That's basically what your brain is doing when you're inferring what's going on in someone else's head while you're communicating with them. It's a skill which can be learned, sure, I did it, but what makes some people popular growing up is that they have a natural aptitude at it.

    It's also worth considering the sort of processing power it takes to catch a ball, express yourself through dance, do musical improvisation in real time, etc.

    One key to not being an arrogant fuckwad is realizing that the things for which you have a natural aptitude are not objectively superior to the things for which others have a natural aptitude. They may be more useful in some settings, and certainly, in our society some of them are more in demand than others. As a predictor of life success by most metrics, however, social skills are probably at least as important as the sort of smarts nerds possess.

  • Re:nope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:36PM (#41766577) Homepage Journal

    Plumbing can be done badly by someone without smarts; a proper plumbing job -- knowing when to use copper, when PVC, when something else, what the optimum grade for laying the pipes is, etc. is just as technical as anything a technologist or medical practicioner does. In fact, the parallels between plumbing and PCB layout are striking -- with the difference that you have to deal with gravity and environmental impact instead of RF interference, and have a wider selection of materials to choose from. There's also the fact that each plumbing job is done by hand instead of just having to do the layout and then sending it to the printer for replication.

  • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:38PM (#41766609) Homepage


    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.

  • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:41PM (#41766659)

    Au contraire mon frere, as a licensed plumber you have to basically know the contents of the National Plumbing Codes, and any State and Local codes, up to or better than the inspector who will be checking your work. You have to know how to apply these codes, how to do the work, no less be physically capable of doing it; and if you don't do your job correctly, you might be liable for property damage, and if you don't know to how install that vent pipe correctly, you might even be liable for someone's death, as has happened many times before.

    And like a doctor, when you need a plumber, you often really, really need a plumber, and you need him NOW. Perhaps plumbing or other trade work doesn't involve higher levels of mathematical and physics understanding, but I'd advise you not to look down your nose at one when he's looking down your shitter.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:41PM (#41766673) Homepage

    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 beyond their classes.

    Ultimately, life will fix the problem.

    Reading Slashdot for over a decade now, your optimism is unwarranted.

  • I'll bite. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fritsd ( 924429 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:44PM (#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 @12:48PM (#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 westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:49PM (#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 CokoBWare ( 584686 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:54PM (#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...

  • by canadiannomad ( 1745008 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:04PM (#41767077) Homepage

    To quote the late great George Carlin:

    Just think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:06PM (#41767125) Journal

    It's not that people are dumb, it's that computers are still very new

    You know, I heard that excuse a lot twenty years ago. Since then, computers have entered into every facet of modern life. People leaving university today were born after the world wide went online, and even after home Internet access became cheap. I've spoken to people who are now retired who have been programming for their entire career. Unless someone has been living in a cave for the last few decades, they have no excuse for not being at least passingly familiar with this stuff. I have a lot of time for people who find that they are in a situation that their prior experience doesn't give them the tools to deal with, I have none for people who are wilfully ignorant and refuse to take advantage of opportunities to rectify this.

  • by heckler95 ( 1140369 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:08PM (#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.
  • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:16PM (#41767315)
    To build on this, my Father-in-law is an electrician. Sure maybe he's not overly technical and can barley use a computer, but when he's working he's making $60/hour + materials. I say when he's working, because there's so much work for him he chooses when and who he works for. So I'd argue that he has a much better job than most of the technical people I know.

    Trades people should be respected, with out them we wouldn't have buildings to store our computers, power to turn them on, or running water to make coffee with for those late night programming sessions.

    I agree with the summary I've observed many co-op students that work under me thumbing their noses at our co-workers. They think because I have a degree I'd be on their side, but I'm not. A piece of paper says you survived university, now a days that's probably living at home with your parents. Most of my co-workers may not have degrees, but self taught with 20+ years of experience will kick a piece of paper in the nuts any day and I'm quick to remind my co-ops of that.
  • by Lershac ( 240419 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:38PM (#41767715) Homepage

    No, unfortunately by your own standards you are arrogant here. Its how you deliver the information. Patience and tolerance for ignorance go a long way towards people having respect for your knowledgebase.

    I consult for a living. Having the knowledge is the relatively easy part. Being able to deliver it to the client in a way which will allow them to understand their ignorance, and the content of your information bolus, without making them feel stupid and inferior... That takes diplomacy, and compassion, and work. When you can interact with others on a subject which you are expert in and they are not, without making them feel inferior and imparting part of your knowledge to them at the same time, then you are a success.

  • by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:42PM (#41767789) Homepage

    Haha, very close to the advice I was going to offer—my two-step plan to defeating arrogance:

    1. Understand that people are, universally, completely fucking stupid.
    2. Understand that you are a person.


  • by Americano ( 920576 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:18PM (#41768369)

    Yep - it's the The Dunning-Kruger effect [].

    Ignorant people often vastly overestimate their actual skill level and competence - they don't realize how much they don't know. Experts, conversely, tend to hedge far more about their competence, and underestimate their abilities, because despite being VERY knowledgeable, that knowledge gives them a very real understanding of exactly how little they TRULY know.

    The arrogance talked about in TFS is generally a function of a reasonably intelligent person with little real-world experience. For the truly intelligent people, they're usually taught a valuable lesson in humility and modesty within a few years of encountering "real life" after college.

  • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Clueless Moron ( 548336 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:24PM (#41768461)

    The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

    - John W. Garner

  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:37PM (#41768669) Homepage Journal

    That line presumes certain things about the curve of intelligence. It's possible that the larger portion is below the average line if the low end is sufficiently low, but it's also possible that the larger portion is above the average line if the high end is sufficiently high.

    Now, if he'd been talking about the median...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:49PM (#41768843)

    In a normally distributed data set like intelligence, mean = median = mode, of course.

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:56PM (#41768969)
    As the old saying goes (more or less)
      The fool thinks he knows everything, and the wiseman is aware he knows nothing.
  • by Brian Feldman ( 350 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:10PM (#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 Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:11PM (#41769207)

    Unless someone comes up with a way to write text with your thoughts, I think that typing will remain for a long time. Even if speech recognition was perfect, I still would not like to dictate a long document. Especially one that has any mathematical formula in it. Or programming code.

  • Re:nope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:23PM (#41769403) Homepage Journal

    Plumbing can be done badly by someone without smarts; a proper plumbing job -- knowing when to use copper, when PVC, when something else, what the optimum grade for laying the pipes is, etc. is just as technical as anything a technologist or medical practicioner does.

    Strongly disagree, and here's why. Any asshole with a book full of tables and instructions can do what a plumber does. Any asshole with a book full of tables and instructions is probably going to kill anyone they try to perform surgery on. "Technologist" doesn't mean anything. Probably anyone can be trained to administer a thing. Probably not everyone can be a successful all-encompassing systems administrator, who is a sort of digital renaissance [wo]man.

    True to some degree. Except that any asshole with a book full of tables can't actually do what a plumber does, as they need to have an advanced enough level of abstract thought and general competence to grok the tables and instructions. Plus, good soldering takes practice.
    You do have a point in that anyone who knows their way around building up a circuit board (including routing, parts selection, soldering) can probably do the job of a plumber with ease, and many plumbers would never be able to build up a board. But the tasks really are equal -- they take patience, research skills, a good memory, a steady hand, decent eyesight and a solid understanding of the task at hand.

    The problem is that when most people think "plumber" they think "guy who plumbs in a new sink". That's equivalent to calling a surgeon "the guy who cuts people open" or a circuit board designer "the guy who puts chips on a board". A real master plumber is someone who can design the entire water system and implement it at lowest cost and highest efficiency, in a way that it will last for over 30 years without problems. I've known a few of these guys, and they are just as sharp as the others we're discussing. There's a reason plumbers use the apprenticeship model, and don't just take a written and practical test to get their master's in plumbing.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:48PM (#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!"

  • "The average computer user is probably more ignorant of how computers work *now* then the average computer user 10 years ago"
    25 years ago? sure. IN the 80s pretty much the only people who had computers where people interested in computer. since about 92 or so, people have somputers becasue they are intersted in what they can programs the run.

    " It amazes me that people do not care about how these marvelous machines work, but they don't."
    It shouldn't.

    Do you know how a city water system works? that's a marvelous creation. Do you understand the metallurgy used to create a nail? do you know the variety of chemical choices the can be made when making gas?
    The vast majority of marvelous thing that you use you don't really care how they work in any real detail.

    Not creepy, human. No one can be interested in everything. There are some people, and maybe you are one, they got into programming becasue computers are really powerful in all areas of life, and computer programming means when I am interested in a topic, I can get a job in that industry and learn from experts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @04:03PM (#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 ultranova ( 717540 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @05:12PM (#41770851)

    Like my tenant, I went over 1000 times over the last 10 years how to burn a CD. He still calls me when he wants to burn a CD. I explained to him the best course of action after this long is to stop trying. He agreed because it's just too complicated and he is not a "computer guy" like me.

    I just hope stupidity is not contagious.

    Do you still burn his CDs for him? Yes?

    Don't confuse opportunistic laziness with stupidity.

  • by ridley4 ( 1535661 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @05:57PM (#41771299)

    A bone to pick, if you would:

    Do you know how a city water system works? that's a marvelous creation. Do you understand the metallurgy used to create a nail? do you know the variety of chemical choices the can be made when making gas?
    The vast majority of marvelous thing that you use you don't really care how they work in any real detail.

    I don't know everything - anyone with an ounce of sense would say they don't, but frankly, I simply detest that sort of thought, that blase and complacent ignorance of the world that seems pervasive nowadays. I don't know the metallurgy in a nail, nor do I completely grok of the workings of the municipal water network in my city nor even its power grid, and only dimly aware of anything about the specifics of petrochemical refining. But you know what?

    The world's only as boring as you let it be. Reading about those sorts of subjects over a lunch or while bored in the evening is the kind of thing I do. Even in the USA, a person can get a surprisingly good survey of the sciences and some trades with its broken educational system, but the problem isn't simply lack of availability, it's, again, this willful ignorance of many things. There is this growing urge to literally refuse to learn about the basics of things that deeply influence their life. I'm not an expert in a lot of fields, but at least I'm not enough of an ignorant mule to act like none of this matters.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.