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Are people in positions of authority really smarter than the rest of us?

By Shellbot ·
Read this article last week and it really hit a note with me. Are all the people i think are more knowledgable than me really so? Ok granted they've more experience than me, and when it comes to a Dr, fair enough..but lets say teachers right..I recently overheard a guy who does a bit of teaching say he just rips stuff of the net and hands it out in class, thats how he "keeps up with the new stuff". Anyone can do that.

Here's the article, any thoughts?

One of the most terrifying lessons I have learned is that, by and large, grown-ups don't really know what they are doing. As a schoolkid, I mistook my teachers for all-knowing, infallible beings protected by an invisible forcefield of adulthood. Even as I grew older, left school, became a student, left polytechnic and became a fledgling adult myself, I laboured under the delusion that people in positions of authority were inherently more "adult" than I was - that they possessed some kind of on-board mental computer that guided them towards making the right decision, even if I didn't always agree with it.
My overdue epiphany finally arrived in my mid-20s, at a barbecue, when I found myself talking to a girl the same age as me who was a schoolteacher, and she described how, much of the time, she was teaching the kids things she had only read the week before in the textbook. As long as she stayed one chapter ahead, she was fine. At first I was genuinely surprised; I had thought all that knowledge was stored in their heads. Then it got worse.
I met a doctor, not much older than myself, who was a) drunk and b) pretty stupid. I realised that in terms of age, I had caught up with the "adults", and was horrified to learn they were all just as ham-fisted as me. At least the young ones were. The older generation surely had a better handle on things, I reasoned. They had to, or the world would slide into chaos. Then I passed 30 and realised I still didn't have a clue what was going on. Now I'm 36, and if there is one thing I do know, it's that I still don't know that much. No one does. Everybody's winging it. Everything is improvised.
And the world never "slides into chaos" - it's perpetually chaotic because all of us, from beggars to emperors, are crashing around trying to make the best of an unpredictable universe. We are little more than walking mistake generators. Dumb animals, essentially. Things would be just as messy if hens ruled the world. This is true, and it's scary. But also sort of glorious.
Consider that an extended caveat for the following humiliating confession: I don't understand the news. Not entirely. Let me explain: I watch and read the news, not obsessively, but probably often enough to be doing my bit as a concerned citizen. But I can't keep up with it. I follow it, but I don't always truly follow it, if you see what I mean.
Entertainment news aside, every story comes with a complex back story consisting of a million tiny events, of countless shades of right and wrong, of mistake piled upon mistake, successes and failures, injustices and struggles. It's like trying to follow the plot of the most complicated and detailed soap opera ever made, one that was running for centuries before you started tuning in. To truly understand a major news story often requires real effort - more than many people are willing to give - which is why most of us know more about celebrities than, say, the Israel-Palestine situation.
I think people who work in hard news often forget this. They are submerged in it. They know the cast, they have followed the storylines and they can't help assuming their readers or viewers have similar knowledge. In reality, most people probably missed the crucial, earlier episodes, and subsequently can't quite relate to the story. We can see it's important - it's the news! - but we don't always feel its importance. If more of us did, there would probably be open revolt - or at least more revolt, more often.
In my mid-20s I wrote for videogames magazines. I was proud of my work. It was just an excuse to write jokes really, and it was great fun. But while videogame fans seemed to like what I did, it was baffling to the average Joe: peppered with terminology about polygon counts and frame rates, and gags that referenced other, older games. To the casual observer, it was a minefield of unfamiliar acronyms.
This is fine for specialist writing but it alienates the outsider. A lot of news coverage is specialist writing. It's news written for news fans. And the stuff that isn't seems to consist of stories about Sienna Miller's arse, which is easy to follow because, well, there's not much to it. Because she is so thin.
I can't help thinking that what we need now, perhaps more than ever, is a populist and accessible Dummies' Guide to Now. The BBC News website does this brilliantly, with regular bite-sized primers attached to major stories, which attempt to explain the back story to newcomers clearly and concisely, without being patronising or stupid. It has simple titles such as "Who is Scooter Libby?", and is a rare oasis of clarity. I would like to see it launch some kind of 24-hour "news companion" channel, or red-button service, that does the same thing on TV: a rolling fill-in-the-blanks service that helps you get up to speed. A catch-up service for reality, if you like. Not dumbed-down news, but clear information - something that often gets lost in the 24-hour scramble of breaking developments and updated headlines.
Maybe it's just me who craves that. Maybe I'm thick. Maybe the rest of you understand everything and I'm alone in my ignorance. But I doubt it. I think the vast majority of us are winging it, at least 18 chapters behind in the textbook and secretly praying no one else will notice. If we all knew more, we would do more to lend a hand, instead of shrugging and hoping the news might some day go away or submerging ourselves in comforting trivia. Don't just tell us what is important. We might not have paid attention earlier. Toss us a bone. Tell us why.

Charlie Brooker
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian <javascript:ol('http://www.guardian.co.uk/');>

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Charlie Brooker

by NOW LEFT TR In reply to Are people in positions o ...

Total Fook*r?

Come on - can't keep up with the News - the News should be the least of their worries...

What paper was this from ??? :-)

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The Guardian

by Shellbot In reply to Charlie Brooker


well, dunno about the news bit..but it made me take a good look at the person across from me.. i realised they don't know jack, they just quoting buzz words

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by onbliss In reply to Are people in positions o ...

They got to the position because they have some "stuff". Capability and Willingness are crucial factors in getting the individual where he or she wants to go.

As far as me, I think the entire world is smarter than me :-(

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With grammar like that...

by zarathustra2010 In reply to Yes

With grammar like you used, I can understand why everyone is smarter than you.

Improve your English grammar skills, and you too can be as intelligent as the rest of the world.

A few hints:

"They attained the positions they have because they had the "right stuff".

"In my opinion, the entire world is smarter than I."

And you write software for a living? No wonder so much software is so buggy. With software authors like yourself (who can barely understand English grammar) writing code, bugs are guaranteed to enter.

English is NOT a programming language, in case you fail to realize it. Do not speak and write English the same way you write code.

Perhaps, a few formal lessons in English Grammar (which you probably missed while in High School because you were out partying instead of studying) will help. A decent grasp of English Grammar will improve your programming skills considerably.

Donald L McDaniel

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U udnrestood waht I said

by onbliss In reply to With grammar like that.. ...


I no technical writer. I programmer. I no write in WSJ or NY Times. I write code with C# - curly bracket language. I no Shakespeare just a coder.

S, me keep feeding my family. They happy, me happy. Works fine 4 me. Looks like you not happy. Sorry not wroking fine enuf 4 u.

This no chat room, neither Oxford.

Finally, how U equate buggy software to buggy english grammer? You no compile code before?

You shout like compiler shout when bad code written. Compiler atleast inhuman and courteous - N no jumps to conclusion.

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by w2ktechman In reply to U udnrestood waht I said

I was gonna comment earlier, but your comments are way better. Maybe being busy wasnt a bad thing!

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by Shellbot In reply to U udnrestood waht I said

good one..

question is..was he joking or was he serious?

geez louise some people..

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Thanks a bunch...

by onbliss In reply to With grammar like that.. ...

...for making me realize I am smarter than one individual :-)

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Incredibly sucksinked, McD!

by daveo2000 In reply to With grammar like that.. ...

I am impressed! The way you wrote that fits in perfectly with the topic of discussion. You come off as a leader showing off his knowledge and at the same time make it look like you are completely insensitive and don't know how to talk to people showing vulnerabilities.

You have shown the poster-boy personality of the thread! Good job!

If I am wrong, PLEASE someone, point me to the truth.

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That was pretty unnecessary

by Tig2 In reply to With grammar like that.. ...

For a person who speaks English as a second language and speaks fluently in another, I think that Onbliss does just fine.

Software isn't written in English. It is written in code. He does mighty fine with that as well.

You may wish to consider that this is an international forum and speaks to a wide variety of people from all over the world.

Your rant does you no credit, sir. Along with speaking proper English, you would do well to consider appropriate behaviour as well.

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