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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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Step one - firmly grasp the stick.

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

Step two - remove it from your arse.

You'll thank me on the ride home today.

Schmuck.

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With that attitude...

by shardeth-15902278 In reply to Yes

You should be the one in charge.

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The concepts right.

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

There are of course specialists that have extensive knowledge in a specific field, but in the main, people know bugger-all.

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Not More Knowledgeable Just Willing

by Johnny Bee In reply to Are people in positions o ...

I don't think anyone is really aware of what is going on at any given time except aboutthe things that they are responsible for. And even then, who knows. Maturity is actually more about accepting responsibility for the inevitable mistakes and being able to calmly deal with them to find solutions and implement measures to prevent re-occurrence.

Unfortunately, when it comes to world leaders, this does not seem to be the case. They appear to sepnd more time trying to improve their own position by applying either military, financial, or intellectual force on their people and the world community. By intellectual force I mean that they make you think that you are stupid and that they know better.

In essence, as you stated, this is all an act. Adults are essentially children who are better able to disguise and hide their true motives from others. They have learned that status and power are illusions based on the unwililngness of others to step forward and take responsibility for the results of their actions. Most of us simply can't be bothered. We'll complain, but how many will actually ever do anything about it (without hurting others, I mean)?

So, we assume that knowledge and intelligence are inherent to those in positions of authority because they appear to know what the answers are. In truth, they are simply willing to put in the effort to find them, and to stick their necks out once in a while in the pursuit of answers. This can be summed up in an explanation I got from some of my military training (Canadian Forces).

When describing the "intelligence factor" of officers, a Warrant Officer explained, "As officers you will be expected to know the answers. You do not have to know the answers, you have to know where to find them, and be willing to do so."

I have fashioned my methodology around that simple philosophy, and it has served me well for the past 30 years.

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I'd like to know where the article came from too...

by carbondog In reply to Are people in positions o ...
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well..i'm trying hard to be nice here

by Shellbot In reply to I'd like to know where th ...

but did you read the whole article? cause down at the bottom it ends like this:

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

*HINT The Guardian is a newspaper..not saying you know that particular paper, but it doesn't take too much of a leap to assume its some sort of publication

:)

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I love your attempt

by Steffi28 In reply to well..i'm trying hard to ...

I wouldnt of bothered serves them right for not reading it all properly!!

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D'OH!

by carbondog In reply to I love your attempt

yep, it does serve them right, doesn't it? Lazy dolt!

Perhaps a link by the actual reference would've been nice too...

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Teachers often show their colors if you can catch it...

by daveo2000 In reply to Are people in positions o ...

I have seen too many examples of "leaders" or "teachers" that get too full of themselves and "the knowledge".

I had an automotive electronics teacher once who started explaining something in class that was clearly wrong (about the innards of an amp meter). None of the students in the class would ever take an ammeter apart so I guess his incorrect info wouldn't matter but, being a geek-in-training, I had to ask.

Guess what...

He defended his answer, the rest of the students told me to shut up and listen to the teacher and I got a "C" in that class. I had no other grades lower than "B+" in that school (which was mostly practical and up to the teacher).


Later, I was taking a programming class for business students. Since I had an undergrad computer degree I was asked to tutor students in the class I was taking.

On one homework, several of those students were given very bad grades for perfectly correct answers. When I asked the teacher about it he said that "they had used 'i' as a loop counter and business students wouldn't know to do that." So, he decided, they had cheated.

Strange things happen in this world.

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teacher's true colours.....

by lakshmana In reply to Teachers often show their ...

i had a similar experience in my engineering studies...My physics teacher started her clas about some vague concept involving infinite potential well and she actually inverted the formula for that!!
When we found out and told her,she became defensive and told us to correct the mistakes that we usually end up doing ...
she didnt even acknowledge her mistake!!

that was the last time i concentrated in her class..

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