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Don’t pretend to know what you don’t

November 11th, 2010

Growing up my mom used to call me Mr. Know-it-all because, apparently, I thought I knew everything. Now I’m older and she still calls me that because, apparently, I still think I know everything.

I don’t.

It’s OK though, because I don’t have to. Nobody knows everything. If anyone did that would be absurd. I think more important than knowing a lot is knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know.

An often overlooked skill is that of discernment. When someone asks you something and you’re not sure you have the information they want and/or need, do you clarify your answer with a phrase like “at least I think that’s it.” Or do you try to come off like an expert on something that you’re not?

Based on my own independent studies, most people are under the impression they’re experts.

Everyday, on this campus alone, I deal with people who say things implying they’re more knowledgeable than they are. I heard someone, while trading barbs back and forth with a varsity athlete, try to taunt him by saying “you don’t even play.” It turns out that athlete is a starter and has been all season. 

Now don’t get me wrong, in the midst of trash talking, exaggerations are allowed, but the problem here is that he actually thought he was right. He was completely misinformed, but decided to say it anyway.

I know others who think they’re infallible when it comes to things such as geography, grammar or opinions in general. They’re not.

The problem goes beyond JCU though, as I’ve seen this lack of self-awareness affect the quality of professional publications like Billboard magazine. How do you spell someone’s name two different ways in the same article? And be wrong both times?

I’m sure someone will go through this issue of the award-winning CN now and try to find something spelled wrong. You might even find it, after all we’re a group of college students putting together a newspaper. We’re good, but we also have classes and we don’t get paid. Professionals are held to a higher standard.

Usually I’m an advocate for laziness, but this is kind of ridiculous. There’s a lack of fact-checking in today’s world, and it’s leading to more ignorance than I have the tolerance for (ironic, huh?).

I can’t tell if this is something that has afflicted young adults for generations or if it’s due to the Wikipedia-era we live in, but a lot of people are full of feces. Like constipated-fat-guy full of feces. When someone tries to come off omniscient about a given topic they make a fool of themselves.

Now you might be thinking “Bob, all you’re doing is complaining that other people. You do it, too. What makes you any different?” and you’d be half-justified.

I am ranting about others ignoring their own ignorance, so you’re right on that count, but to categorize me in that group would be inaccurate. I’m very aware of my shortcomings, things I don’t know or aren’t very good at. As a matter of fact, I’ve written plenty of columns based on the strengths/weaknesses I possess. I’m realistic about what I know.

So by thinking I was cut from the same cloth as those who speak out of their butts, you proved my point by speaking out of your own miseducated butt. Thanks, Ace Ventura.

Next time you’re about to make some unverified statements, remember that people can tell, they just haven’t written a column about it yet.