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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('');>

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If you want a real chuckle, visit his website

by daveo2000 In reply to Is this post rational?

as noted in his profile.

Then you, too, can decide if this guy is for real, somewhat out of touch with reality or just dropping in on his way through this part of the galaxy to never-never land.

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Oh Yee of Little Words,...

by the_webninja In reply to If you want a real chuckl ...

Notice how you take such focus in trying to pick apart everything about me with such Hatred and Contempt, yet you offer very little in substance for your opinions, because you are more deluded and confused than you try to make ME out to be.

Everything I believe is based on FACTS. What about you? Do you base your Beliefs on Fairy Tales, Demons, Devils, imaginary friends?

Then you use Hatred and Contempt to try to discredit ME? HA!

Try as you may, the proof of my Strength is shown in your weak attacks on my character, and the very fact that you THOUGHT there was some reason to attack me in the first place. This gives me great pleasure to know I have attained such a level of Worth. Because without you, I would be nothing. :)

Thank You.

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Not to put too fine a point on it....

by jhardy In reply to Oh Yee of Little Words,.. ...

Webninja says, "Because without you, I would be nothing."

Can we all just agree that Webninja is absolutely correct about at least this one point--prima facie?

That way we can leave him in his solipsistic bubble and move on with a rational discussion.


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by w2ktechman In reply to Oh Yee of Little Words,.. ...

he pointed out that you had a website, and asked for each to judge it themselves.

How they judge it is up to them. I took a glimpse at your site myself, only because he posted where to find it. I looked at 1 thing and did not see listed facts, what I saw was an article claiming that something was true, but no evidense to back it up. You may beleive it to be true, but many will dis-agree with you.
What hatred? to hate you would mean that he really cares about you, but I did not see that in his post.

Edited to add: I normally wouldnt comment on something like this, but I am really, really bored today.

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And oddly

by Tig2 In reply to Oh Yee of Little Words,.. ...

You validate Dave with yours. Unplanned error?

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by boxfiddler Moderator In reply to If you want a real chuckl ...

Never-never land indeed!

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by Tig2 In reply to Is this post rational?

But it WAS mildly entertaining.


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I agree

by w2ktechman In reply to No

but he will probably get a few more hits on his cult site (I mean website)...
I forwarded this to a few conspiracy theory people, so I am sure that they can all 'share the love' and admire or adore him.

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by OnTheRopes In reply to And now you see why we ha ...


Sensei say: Too much wax-on whacks-off make you confuse unintelligible gibberish with understandable Engrish.

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Sensei Replies....

by jhardy In reply to Weedhopper

Take a whack at the Thesaurus and Dictionary and get back to me. The ideas are sound even if the vocabulary escapes you. :-)

Be well,

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