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How To Recognize an Idiot

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Do you have a New Year’s resolution you wish more people would make? I do.

I wish we would stop acting like we know what we’re talking about, even when we don’t.

Everyone is so proud of their ignorance in this world that it baffles me. So can everyone just do me a personal favour and make their resolution to stop acting like they know something when they obviously don’t have a clue!?

I call these people Fake Experts (feel free to use #FakeExperts on Twitter since this shit will be going viral anyway). They know everything about every subject and they always have a cooler story than the one you just told. These people are everywhere. You will see many of them at New Year’s Eve parties, so I figured I’d give you a primer on how to spot them real quick.

Example 1. Politics.

Oh man, these people are amazing.

Listen, I don’t care what your political leaning is, I seriously don’t. You can believe that trees are people for all I care, as long as you actually do your research, you feel me?

My favourite is when people spout some kind of half-baked political ideology and you can literally tell what news segment they heard it on. It’s like these dudes are channeling MSNBC, Fox, or the 9/11 Truth Movement, because they trust the horse’s mouth so much that they feel everything they say is sacrosanct. Seriously, all they need is a Ouija board.

I have an idea, instead of watching the news, why don’t you research the issue and come out with a nuanced conclusion of your own!!!???

Solution: Begin posting radically false things about their heroes on their Facebook wall and get put on limited profile faster than Keith Olbermann can say “HOW DARE YOU SIR” or Glenn Beck can start crying. OH YEAH.

Example 2. Social media experts.

Right off the top of my head right now I can name like 5 social media experts whose advice basically sound like Mad Libs. In fact, you know what? I’m going to register SocialMadLibs.com just for this very occasion. There, done. Have fun.

But social media experts are just one branch of idiots which I should really call “(fashionable technology) experts.” They’ll move into the next thing so fast you won’t even remember what their old Twitter bio was. Karen McGrane called it in Iceland when she said that social media experts are now “content strategists.” Yet these somehow, these people have not had any of their own content actually get popular. It’s insane.

Repeat after me: “And how will that help me sell more?” There we go, it’s like crosses and garlic on a vampire. Too easy.

Example 3. Life/career advice.

Otherwise known as morons on the internet telling me about the world like they know better. God, these people are unbelievable.

So I’m sending out a photo of a new tattoo I just got the other day. Arno at Imago here in Montreal (great shop) did it and it’s epic. I tweet it out.

Some douche responds: “There goes your chance at a real job.”

Uh, dude? You are a real estate agent. How the fuck would you know how to do my job?

The problem with these people is that they seriously believe that the world they live in is the only world that exists. In this guy’s world, if you have tattoos, you are a loser. In my world, a tattoo does not stop you from hitting the New York Times bestseller list! So go fuck yourself.

But this isn’t the only example I can find in this category. Let’s not forget retired in-laws that give you outdated, stupid career advice, or fashion advice from people who dress like they’re homeless!@#$%

I’ll tell you what, once you take your head out of your ass, I will listen to your advice.

Example 4. Wine.

Protip. Stop swishing it in your mouth like a fucking buffoon.

What’s great is that these fools are so predictable that restaurants actually design their wine lists around them.

Nobody wants to look cheap in front of a date or the waiter. This means everyone order the 2nd cheapest wine instead– and restaurnts use this to their advantage by making it the worst deal on the menu. Fake wine experts fall for this every time because they’re afraid of looking stupid or asking questions.

Wine guys exist in every environment. They’re afraid of not knowing about a certain band so they nod in agreement during a conversation, or they don’t know about the newest movie so they just stay quiet and let people assume. Hint! People know you’re faking it! The waiter does, and your date does too.

So stop it.

Example 5. Science.

I’m having a conversation with an acquaintance about food and, after ridiculing alternative methods of eating, he says: “I think everyone should just eat a balanced diet.”

This shit is my absolute favourite.

First of all, how the hell would you know what’s balanced and what isn’t? Have you read any science, or are you just reading Men’s Health and/or Cosmo and then defending it by saying you “heard that” something is true?

In fitness, there is a word for this. It’s called broscience, and it’s not based in reality at all.


Thanks to Martin Berkhan for the pic.

The same thing applies, on both sides, to people arguing global warming, evolution, and many other fields, and you know it.

We are convinced by these people because they themselves sound convinced, not because what they’re saying is real. They’re demagogues who appeal to emotion and intimidation in order to make you feel like you have to agree.

People like this use words like ”balanced” all the time. Why? It’s one of those words that sounds positive, but generic enough that you can’t disagree with it. What’s the opposite of balanced? Unbalanced, I guess. And nobody wants that! That sounds bad!

I have an idea! How about you read the science, dumbass???

Wipe out these generic words from your vocabulary. To people that know better, they label you as a fucking idiot.

Look, here it is right here. Everyone needs to get better at the following phrase. Repeat it out loud with me now and use it 5 times today.

“I don’t know.”

“I haven’t really informed myself.”

“I wish I knew more about that.”

You see how you’re not stupider, smarter, or anything after using that? You see how no one ridicules you? Get used to that phrase, people, because it’s true about almost everything.

We need to do ourselves, our peers, and everyone in our lives a favour and stop being proud of our own ignorance. Maybe read a book, even. Learn a thing or two before we open our mouths.

The world would be a better place.

Thank you. Please tweet this out, and enter your email address below and press enter if you like this post. Cheers.

* Filed by Julien at 10:00 am under rant


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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95 Responses to “How To Recognize an Idiot”

  1. Chel Wolverton Says:

    I don’t know is a clue that you still have something to learn in the world.

    And that’s more than okay, it’s fun even!

    Love the Batman split screens and captions.

  2. Sonia Says:

    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell

  3. Naomi Says:

    Chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out. Ptooey.

  4. Ben Rubin Says:

    Good stuff.
    Question though – it’s IMPOSSIBLE to become an expert and know the ‘science’ (or ‘politics’, or ‘wine’, or what-have-you) on all of the relevant topics that you need to have some sort of opinion on.
    One could spend their entire life researching food choices, fashion, wine, politics, driving skills – and it’s infeasible. Here is my strategy:

    - Become an ‘expert’ by studying the science on things that I REALLY DIG. Here I get to have an opinion – I know my shit. Example for me – I love technology and know my shit when it comes to the latest.
    - For the rest – find someone I trust and for the most part follow their advice – let them be the expert. Don’t bullshit anyone into thinking I know anything about the topic. Example for me – I hate fashion – so I just let someone I trust pick my clothes for me and tell me how to wear them.

    Saves my energy for things I love – and on other topics I make sure to not sound like the ‘expert’ that I am not.

    • Julien Says:

      I agree Ben. I think when people don’t know they should just ADMIT IT. It’s not about being an expert at everything, but becoming an expert at the stuff you decide to shoot your mouth off about. :)

  5. Jeff Sass Says:

    I’d say this was a great post, but I DON’T KNOW what makes a blog post great. LOL. I will say that while I like most all of what you write, these few lines are now among my favorite (that’s favourite to you):

    “The problem with these people is that they seriously believe that the world they live in is the only world that exists. In this guy’s world, if you have tattoos, you are a loser. In my world, a tattoo does not stop you from hitting the New York Times bestseller list! So go fuck yourself.”

    Well said, and full of many more truths and insights than perhaps appear on the surface of it. In our heads, our world IS the one that exists, and the challenge we all face is to manage that reality in relation to everyone else’s reality, which is entirely different, yet very much the same.

    Ok, now I have confused myself. Back to my world…

    Oh, Happy New Year too!

    -Sass

    • Julien Says:

      Love ya Jeff! And your new URL… either that or I just never noticed it before. :)

      The trick is really to make your own world– not in that Secret way but in the way that you place yourself in environments where you thrive.

  6. Leslie Poston Says:

    The Batman/Joker image – awesome.

  7. Chris Cavs Says:

    What I’m peeling away from your rant here is that it’s ok to be an expert in something, but you can’t be an expert in everything, so you need to stop acting like you are. Humility is key. Be humble about your limits, and people will respect you for it.

  8. Judith Says:

    Idiocy runs rampant.

  9. Ross Hudgens Says:

    Julien, I love the wine example. I hadn’t thought of that before – but it’s genius. I knew about menu structuring but breaking it down further is even more intriguing.

    I actually started this comment to cite the hypcorisy of not having a citation for your Joker metabolic info, but I should’ve known you would do better than that – as it’s clearly cited below the photo.

    Agree on all counts and well done.

  10. Eric Jean Says:

    It’s all about integrity. I try to have the courage and self-awareness to admit to my ignorances but also the same courage to oppose blind ignorance in others. My tolerance for such false and unfounded high-mindedness has steadily declined in recent months, enough so that I am increasingly interested in minimising my contact with certain people in my network of acquaintances. If you become the people you know then I need to tip the scales in the opposite direction.

    • Julien Says:

      You got it Jean. Surround yourself with people that do this and you’ll become one of them.

      Old story, I was at Krissi’s house and we were doing some weird/dangerous piercing stuff (I’ll explain in person) with this other dude Daniel. We start spouting off a bunch of stuff about how we should do it, and Daniel goes: “Hold on a second. I think we’re all just saying stuff we heard online.” He was right. Nobody knew a goddamn thing.

      That incident always stuck with me as a moment of clarity where someone saw through all the bullshit. It was great, and I’ll always remember it.

  11. Matt Says:

    Good christ man you are my FAVORITE writer!

    /doneasskissing

    Love the part about social media experts. I consult on Social Media but from a different angle. I’m trying to get these small business guys/gals to get off their asses and do something NEW.

    Most of them are sitting around bitching about the past year – but are still failing in the same old areas – doing the same old thing.

    Get off your ass, promote yourself, and find what works for 2011 – no more bitching.

  12. Chris Says:

    I wonder how much is just sorting out who’s opinions we’re willing to listen to and who’s we aren’t?

  13. Andrew P. Says:

    Great post, Julien.

    One thing I realize more and more as I get older is that I’ve been guilty of one or more of these things at one point or another. I think there’s one more facet to this and that is that there’s nothing wrong with being wrong every once in a while. As long as you’re not a boorish blowhard about it, I think it’s completely acceptable.

    Another thing I want to point out, and I’m not sure if it’s agreeing or disagreeing with you. I fully believe in evolution. 100%. And without a doubt. I accept absolutely no argument about creationism. Can I verbally refute a creationist’s argument on cue? Not all the time – the topic is a very broad one. But I don’t have to be an expert in it to be fully confident in my acceptance of it.

  14. Chris Says:

    Actually, you have me thinking. There’s a good opportunity to get creative/honest with your suggested “I don’t know” questions. Ways that open up conversational opportunity between amateurs, opinionators, and broscientists. There have probably been numerous times when I could say, “I’ve just read about such and such. What [have you read?][do you think?][will you do about it?]“. Or, “I’m learning [this cool thing]. What are you learning about it?” I wonder how much can be set up with these types of responses rather than the instant-pros that we pretend to be? I’m glad you’re ranting… : )

  15. John McLachlan Says:

    Julien: I agree with everything you said except for the tone.

    It strikes me that calling people morons and idiots is verging on being a moron and an idiot yourself. Goodness knows, I say the same things about some people too so am guilty, but it all just doesn’t sit right somehow.

    I’ll think more about this. I certainly sound like a prude, but don’t mean to. :-)

    • RJ Says:

      I couldn’t agree more, John. It was a well-written post, full of sass and a few points I agreed with but overall it came across as childish ‘stompy’ behaviour and hypocritical. How can you tell someone to admit they don’t know everything if you sound like a know-it-all? :)

  16. Zach Cole Says:

    Wise words, Julien!

  17. Still Wondering Says:

    I kinda sorta agree. I would go further though and point out that over the past 10 years the media is publishing snippets of studies that are suspect in their interpretations if not their protocols and the public has become willing to buy into what they read because they don’t understand the inherent weakness in even the best managed study.

    So even if you do the research, keep in mind that you still don’t *know*. Having said that we, as humans require a certain amount of leeway to believe that we have some level of knowledge or, gasp, expertise simply to feel enough confidence to get out in the world and function. So why not feel a certain level of expertise but do so with a big dash of “I don’t know what I don’t know” thrown in?

    Also, while I appreciate the need to vent, sometimes it is better to vent, edit, then publish. If we were able to share our thoughts, knowledge and expertise based on the assumption that we are all reasonably competent people rather than resorting to name calling or disdain for others, we will all increase our ‘smarts’ rather than increasing the level of polarization around ideas.

  18. Daniel Haran Says:

    The tone is extreme. Maybe this helps people draw a clear line that we don’t want to live as superstitious primates?

    It’s starting to piss me off in every realm of my life, whether cooking or raising venture capital.

    I mean, I look up chocolate chip cookie recipes, and there’s people debating whether and how long to leave dough in the fridge. You know what? Run a fucking experiment. Separate the dough in 3. How hard was that?

    While some dumbass is extolling the virtues of letting gluten “rest” (WTF does that even mean!?), any 1st grader could actually check.

    Duck confit at 75C or 80C? Marinate first? Try all 4 combinations.

    Science. It works, bitches.

  19. jason Says:

    The Bertrand Russell quote nails it.

    But, by generically labeling anyone as an idiot, you are pretty much putting yourself in the same category.

    Still, a funny read!

  20. Dylan Duong Says:

    Whut up Julien! What a great take. You nailed the points and it was freaking hilarious.

  21. Chris Says:

    It’s amusing that some people get hung up on the idiot thing and want to wave a finger rather than empathizing with the frustration.

  22. Tammy Says:

    YES, YES, YES! Somebody finally said it.

    I don’t understand it when people can’t admit they don’t know something. I find that I respect them more when they own up to not knowing it all.

    Tx

  23. Elaine Says:

    At first I was engaged, then began to realize you were ranting and perhaps I should feel outraged at your smarmy tone, then the Ostrich got me laughing and all is now right with the world.

    Listening exclusively to “the experts” makes it difficult to make a decision on your own. The real experts help you ask the hard questions, as you’ve done here. (Bullshit meter sold separately.)

  24. Seth Elliott Says:

    One (minor) step to take: dig deeper. I myself simply never accept a cited statistic or conclusion from a “study,” I want to see the primary research. Most legitimate web sources (including TechCrunch, Venturebeat, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, etc.) when referencing a piece of research provide a link to the actual published work. If it’s something that interests me (or I am likely to reference) I do some additional exploration rather than simply imbibing at 2nd hand.

    One example of this is the citation in goal setting literature of the apocryphal Harvard Study. The study is first mentioned in What They Don’t Teach You in Harvard Business School and cited by numerous authors (including Brian Tracy) countless personal development experts on the web. When I first came across the reference, I decided to dig into the actual study to review the conclusions. Lo and behold, it turns out there never was such a piece of research!

    Untold personal-development “gurus” (a riff on your Example 2) have cited this “study” over several decades, and who-know-how-many thousands of people have accepted it as fact (Example 5 – Read the Science).

    It’s never been easier than it is today to put in the time and gather the facts needed to develop an opinion (or response).

    Nice post!!fingertips environment,

  25. Mitch Joel - Twist Image Says:

    Your next book should be called, Dumbasses And Idiots. Seriously.

  26. John Haydon Says:

    I have nothing to add. ;-)

  27. Greg Says:

    That was a very balanced article.

  28. Deb Brown Says:

    Julien,
    You just get right to the heart of the matter. And while I might not talk in the same vernacular as you, I so enjoy visiting your world. You’ve got balls brother.

    The comment about the asswipe who said you’d never find a job — that one made me think. How often do I do that? Make assumptions about another based on my life?

  29. Judy Helfand Says:

    Sadly, somewhere out there is a parent who remembers the day the medical community diagnosed their child as being an idiot, imbecile or a moron. Yes, these are or were indeed recognized classifications of mental retardation. Idiot has an IQ of 25 and the maturity of a three year old. An imbecile has the IQ 25-50 and the maturity of a 7-8 year old, while a moron has the IQ of 50-70, the maturity of 8-12 and can handle some work under supervision.
    Maybe there are other labels you could use to describe what clearly riles you, like “uninformed”, “arrogant”, “uneducated”, “lazy”, or “copycat”.
    Also, is there a reason why you used an image of John Taliaferro Terry? Based on his biography he seemed like a pretty nice person, albeit somewhat sickly throughout a lot of his life. Just curious.

    I understand your point of view, but I think you are a more skilled writer that what appears in this post and some of your other recent posts.

    You are getting more traffic and comments, but at whose expense?
    Judy

  30. Jason Sokol Says:

    Julien,

    Wow! Interesting post. I don’t know if you’ll ever solve this problem. We all have this insane desire to be recognized and to feel important. This all leads to people people trying hard to convince others that they know what the hell they are talking about. Good luck on that venture…

    While you are at it, let’s add the following:

    * People that use Twitter as the ultimate SPAM machine.
    * Music labels and magazine/book publishers that have not figure out that their business model isn’t working.
    * Athletes and actors that think they understand what life is like for the rest of us.

  31. Daan van den Bergh Says:

    I personally find these people hilarious. I tend to go along with them and act like they’re super interesting. I met a wannabe-rapper like that one day. He was absolutely convinced he was the next tupac or something. And well, I had incredibly much fun seeing himself make an ass of himself.

    Great article! Hilarious! :)

  32. Kneale Mann Says:

    I don’t know anything about nothing. I am an idiot. Yeah self-doubt, woot, I suck. The end.

  33. Justin S Says:

    Great post!

    As a few people pointed out in the comments above we are all probably guilty of being an idiot once in a while. I think an important piece of not being that guy is to question everything you think you know and what experts tell you. We can always learn more if we are willing to question what we know.

    This post also made me think of a sentence from the book Lights Out Sleep Sugar and Survival that I think is worth consideration. “In our time, we’ve gained enormous understanding of the natural world through a wealth of information, but we’ve lost the knowledge of how we fit into that world” Not only is continuing to learn important but so is the application of what we know.

  34. Smart Lady Says:

    Your next book should be called:

    Jesus Loves You
    But Everyone Else Thinks You’re an Asshole

  35. Ray Says:

    Be honest. When you come across that person who always has a better story, or who always has to have the last word, isn’t if fun to keep pushing them? Yes, they are idiots. But in an emotionally sadistic sort of way, getting them to one-up themselves always manages to put a smile on my face…even if I can’t remember what they were saying 3 minutes after they said it.

    If you have to tell me you’re an expert or tell me you’re famous…you are neither.

  36. Lewis Poretz Says:

    Huh?? -> #FakeExperts = I can do better! :~)

  37. JR Griggs Says:

    Love it Julian! Even as someone who is pretty vocal about politics & other areas of life, I totally understand the point. For a couple reasons, one I never ever talk about something unless I have done my homework. And second I have no hesitation to say “I don’t know.”

    I love it when someone starts talking politics with me and lays out what they think about an issue and I ask what research they put into it. The response I usually get is either they heard it on TV or they think it just makes sense. Never mind that research shows it to be disaster everywhere else and a failure when tried here. Let’s just go with it cause they “think” it makes sense! Keep in mind those people may actually vote too!

    There is another type of idiot however, it is the one who thinks that because you do your homework before speaking that you are a “know it all” because it is impossible to know so much. Actually it is not that hard, just substitute the average 20 hrs a week of TV time for something more educational like a BOOK!

    BTW, I did not quite make the 40 pages a day but next year I will! Plus I read a lot of other items throughout the day.

    Here is something I have told my son: “There are a lot of idiots in this world, it is important that you do everything you can not to be one of them!”

  38. Glenn Hansen Says:

    How about if you swear a lot and just criticize people and call them smartass?

  39. Yan Tsirklin Says:

    How can you learn something if your already know EVERYTHING! Nice post.

  40. Jeremy Blanton Says:

    Julien- You had me in tears reading here! Funny stuff. After reading your post I now realize why I find myself skipping the office parties & such. Too many gurus around for my liking.

  41. Katie Says:

    Maybe you can give ME some advice. How do you keep yourself from falling in line with these schmos? I mean, it’s contagious. You get in the room with a fast talker who has an instant answer for everything. And if you’re like me – who thinks everything through – you feel pressure to have an answer/opinion/idea instantly. It’s difficult.

    I feel pressure to think too fast and keep up with these jokers who like the second comment nailed so perfectly: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell – So I leave the meeting and soon after come up with some great stuff. But they have already gotten busy with their ideas that are falsely informed. I need to grow a pair! ;o)

    It’s like saying “I don’t know” in those situations w/ those types of people somehow closes the door. Saying “I don’t know, let me research and think for a minute” and they only hear the first half. Grrrr.

  42. Laurie Says:

    I know so many people like the ones you list! Thanks for the laugh. And I love the Ostrich laugh.

  43. Terrilynnh Says:

    Heh :)

  44. Mandi Says:

    I know someone who says “I haven’t heard this particular version” if someone asks him about a song being played. Even if it’s the only version of the song in existance. What the hell is wrong with saying “nope, what is it?”?!

  45. Lillian Wight Says:

    On the Social Media Expert point: this is the one that gets my goat the most, maybe because I love SM and tend to notice all the folks who are lauded as experts (and not just by themselves!). What I find is that so many of these folks are treated as experts precisely *because* they’re telling us their advice will make us money. So how do we counter that? With the industry/genre/field being so new, is there really any way to challenge them?

  46. Bronwyn Says:

    its ok to have an opinion, even scientists have opinions or hypothesis they work from. What is wrong is not being open to others opinions, which may change/challene yours. Even “experts” need their “facts” challenged.

  47. Katie Van Domelen Says:

    Honestly confidence is key here, which is a bit backwards. The more confident you try to sound being an “expert” in things, the less confidence it shows you really have. If you’re a confident person you have no problem saying “I hadn’t heard that before, tell me more.” or “I don’t know much about that.” Because you’re confident enough in your other skills and intellect to know that admitting to less than perfect knowledge elsewhere doesn’t reflect poorly on you. That’s especially true when it comes to cultural or “cool” things like bands and movies.

    Personally I like to think of myself as well read, and I enjoy conversations on a breadth of topics that I can’t claim to have “expert” knowledge in (politics, science, current events, etc.) So my standby is to clearly cite where I’m getting my information from, “I heard X in an article by Y, and I thought it sounded interesting, here are my thoughts on it.” As the conversation progresses I just try to be clear about my sources and be honest about how much I actually know vs what is just opinion.

    I don’t mind when people do this with me, I don’t want people to feel limited to only talking about things they’re an “expert” in because I think communication of ideas is important. I think we all just need to be more honest with ourselves and others about our experience and knowledge level so that those conversations can be productive and not just repetitive. For example, if I say I read X from Y source and someone identifies themselves as a bigger expert in that field (more research, knowledge, experience, whatever) I should concede whatever point we’re debating to them and adjust my view accordingly. I think they call this “open-mindedness” and it’s an attribute that’s missing in much of our society.

    Great article! Thanks for posting, it got me thinking and I really enjoyed it.

  48. Mark Says:

    Hmmm… I don’t know. I haven’t really informed myself. I wish I knew more about that. ;)

  49. Jorgen Sundberg Says:

    Great read Julien, love the 2nd cheapest syndrome and broscience!

    I would go easier on that estate agent feller though, it was just a joke about the tattoo (I hope). If he follows you on Twitter or anywhere he knows you’re doing very well (or he’s a real moron).

  50. Michele Nicholls Says:

    “X” is an unknown quantity, a ‘spurt’ is a small quantity under pressure (according to a favourite definition!) That pretty much defines ‘experts’ in my book, what you ‘know’ can only ever be what you believe, so long as it remains changeable with changing evidence, you’re ok, if it becomes dogma you’ve lost the plot!

    I love your posts, Julien, they always make me question my own beliefs ;oD

  51. Erika Napoletano Says:

    Shit – tattoos are going to prevent me from getting a “real job?” In that case, I think I’m going to move up my appointment for tat #7 considering it’ll look sweet next to #6 (which I got last week). Best news I’ve had all week. Fuckin’ A.

  52. Brian Says:

    Am I a bad person because I think wine is gross.

  53. Rob Says:

    I write a beer review blog, so the wine one really hit home. So many fucking douches and know-it-alls. I love sitting back and listening to these people talking out their asses, then writing about it later.

    I just subscribed to your blog and can’t wait for the launch of SocialMadLibs.com.

  54. James Says:

    Great post!

    “I have an idea, instead of watching the news, why don’t you research the issue and come out with a nuanced conclusion of your own!!!???”

    I served in the Marine Reserves and did a tour in Iraq, working closely with the major news outlets and that opened my eyes to how little you can rely on the news to inform you. Upon returning to the States I took a year or so of just screwing around and having fun in order to put Iraq out of my memory. After that I began about a year long search for multiple news sources that I could gather info from and then think critically to come to as close to the truth as possible. It worked, but left me very depressed and cynical about the world. Since then I’ve learned to accept that the world is full of corruption and reading articles dealing with scientific discovery’s is way more rewarding.

    “So I’m sending out a photo of a new tattoo I just got the other day. Arno at Imago here in Montreal (great shop) did it and it’s epic. I tweet it out.

    Some douche responds: “There goes your chance at a real job.””

    To these people I have to recommend ‘The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit’. Live your life first and then let that dictate what options you have left for work. Not the other way around.

    “Learn a thing or two before we open our mouths.”

    I think we could learn a thing or two at all times. At Christmas I was having a conversation with my girlfriend’s Aunt and Uncle and I pulled my phone out when her Aunt wondered aloud about something that nobody else could answer. Having the internet in your pocket means that we don’t have to wonder and go on with the conversation. As long as your phone is adding to the conversation you’re already having then I think it’s a good thing to put it to use.

  55. Ray Martin Says:

    Reasons why I felt like an idiot after reading this post:
    1. Favour and Favourite just look incorrect to me. Thank God you didn’t also use Theatre or Honour in this post or I’d have gone all spellchecker on you.
    2. I was following your blog in my Google Reader and had it under the folder, “Social Media Experts”. Guess I need to change the label…
    3. I have a tatoo even though it’s hidden under a shirt most of the time and I’ve never been successful selling real estate. No wonder!

  56. Scott Says:

    Fkperts are everywhere. The difference is in the substance. Love this post.

    Scott

  57. Niels Says:

    I think I have been an idiot more than once, great vibe!

  58. @alanrae Says:

    Nice vitriol Julien – always a pleasure to read your sulphurous humour (@Ray Martin please note ;) )

  59. Ron De Giusti Says:

    You have inspired me to remove anyone from my Twitter stream that spouts out one more thing about social media!!!

    Excellent blog-post.

    It would make a fantastic book to put together all the ridiculously claims of “I’m an expert” from Twitter streams and blog posts. (of course, blur out the names). That’s a New York Times Bestseller!!

  60. Ryan Deschamps Says:

    As much as I agree with some of the things being said here about know-it-alls and all that, I think my new year’s resolution is to avoid writing stuff like this.

    There’s really nothing more wasteful than worrying about the assholes of the world. I’m going to take it for granted that any time I am inspired to complain about these folks, it means I’m spending way too much headspace on them – and hopefully that will give myself permission not to be annoyed at them anymore.

    If you think about it, there’s way too much good stuff going on on social media that there’s no need to give the SM douchebags any thought.

  61. Kenny Rose Says:

    Your a fucking Genius. Do you do this shit for real. I mean you obviously read a lot and you have depth. Refreshing that some times I get to read some real shit rather than this I am an expert shit lets all fuck up social media so no one else can. Awesome Post. Your on my list. Oh and I am not an idiot well not all the time anyway. Be well keep that fan on bro there are a lot radiators in this room. I will be back.

  62. Michael Says:

    “I have an idea! How about you read the science, dumbass???”

    This comment makes me feel like an idiot because I have no idea where to find food science info.

  63. harriet fancott Says:

    I have found that telling people that I really have no idea what I’m doing or talking about to be incredibly liberating. *Snort*

  64. Heather Says:

    Just came across your blog. Read 3 posts in a row, laughed out loud, resonated with lots, was thoroughly entertained and (at risk of you punching me in the face if we ever have the chance to meet) inspired! Thanks!!

  65. Michael LaRocca Says:

    Too fucking beautiful, man. There goes my resolution to cut down on blog subscriptions, but that’s okay because I didn’t tell anybody about it. Oh, wait, I just did. Whoops?

  66. Pepita Says:

    @Sonia: I love the Bertrand Russell quote. I think that the problem with experts are not necessarily the experts. It is the herds of critiqueless lemmings following these experts and believing everything they say. Thus creating “memes”: http://sparkers.typepad.com/thinkingsparks/2011/01/9-things-i-do-not-get-about-social-networking.html

  67. Travis Says:

    I’m always amused, in an annoyed I-want-to-shove-my-fork-up-your-ass way, with the guy who knows just everything about the food and traditions of a culture when he’s never visited the country and doesn’t know any natives. He’s the sort of fucking idiot who brags in restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, Brazilian, etc) about knowing what the real version of X is supposed to taste like and blah de fucking blah blah. Blow it out your ass, you pretentious poseur twit!

  68. Jason Sandeman Says:

    I love it. I come off as an “expert” to some people, but only the assholes who are just spouting off shit they heard from TV. One of my best friends actually spoke the calories in/out mantra. It made me want to fucking pull what’s left of my hair out. See, he is now morbidly obese, and so, WTF does he qualify that with! Thanks to FTA, I now have another site to look at!
    BTW: Are you from Montreal? I am living in Saint Eustache, and working Downtown. I’d hire a dude with a tatoo anyday. Then again, I’m a chef!

  69. Katbrogan Says:

    1. Tattoos do keep you from good jobs. I read an article about it once.

    2. I was going to write this exact post soon. It would have been better than yours.

    3. You sounded like a communist in this post.

  70. Robin Morgan Says:

    LOL…I’d like to submit two more entries:

    “I have eclectic tastes in music”
    and
    “I’m not religious, but I AM spiritual”

    I must admit that my husband is a BIG offender in this respect; if he reads it on MSN why it’s the gospel, hallelujah.

  71. Jeff Goins Says:

    @Robin – I can’t stand those cliches, either.

  72. Kat Says:

    pure brilliance! i love how you basically just said, “stop trying to look smart/cool all the time & admit that we all know shit about the majority of stuff” but made it hillarious and entertaining to read!

  73. Earlene Luke Says:

    Enjoyed your thinking re facts…trouble is, “facts can change” someone once said…I think…. And then there is “if I knew then what I know now” (you’ll get there…hopefully). My fav for todays politics…”If you can keep a cool head in the middle of all this confusion, you just don’t understand the situation” Amen.

  74. Jen Says:

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/im-right-youre-wrong-lets-have-another-latte-20110422-1dqxt.html

    light-hearted article about motivated reasoning and the Dunning Kruger effect. It might help.

  75. Lindsay Burck Says:

    Most of the time that I read your blog, I think, “I wish this guy would stop trying to give me life/career advice!”

    Your example about real estate/bro hit it home though.

  76. Aaron Says:

    What we need a lot more of, and you seem to be leaning that way, is people behaving and thinking like the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.

    Socrates basically acted under the assumption that he could be sure of vey little, if anything, but that he could become more functionally knowledgeable by critically analyzing everything he could, severely scrutinizing and questioning widely accepted or traditional beliefs, and trying to come to the best conclusion on any subject by gathering as much reliable information and data as he could. He used this to criticize the irrationality of certain religious beliefs and laws in his ancient Athens, as well as to theorize that human experience might all be an illusion, that anyone can be tricked into believing just about anything, that the wise man knows that he knows nothing/very little.

    Basically, he may be the first person to ever make a career out of calling people on their bullshit. One of the first proponents of not talking out of your ass. And he was eventually executed for it I believe.

  77. Shane Says:

    I like the general idea of the post, but doesn’t the majority of your blog fall under #3? “Example 3. Life/career advice.

    Otherwise known as morons on the internet telling me about the world like they know better.”

    I’m not calling you a moron (your word), but what do you call all these posts where you’re telling people what to do with their life and how they need to quit doing this and start doing that, etc.? What makes you different than someone you define as a “moron” giving you advice? Aren’t you contradicting completely?

  78. No Says:

    I have an idea: why don’t you take your own advice?

  79. Tina Says:

    I LOVE this!

    I used to be one of those idiots who was afraid to admit that I didn’t know something but once I woke up and realized that it’s indeed okay to not know everything, I tend to be a lot more at ease. I never ridiculed anybody or told them to “educate themselves” because I felt I was always right and whatnot. I just never admitted that I simply didn’t know. People used to intimidate me. Good thing I grew up, huh? ;)

    As a writer, I never write anything I don’t know anything about or haven’t experienced firsthand. If I’m writing a rant, I write it from my point of view; we all do. I really appreciate your honesty in this. I wrote an opinion piece on an issue a few weeks ago and some anonymous jerk decided it would be awesome to point out how I was wrong in 8 long messages….because he was so proud of his ignorance…anonymously, of course. ;)

    Isn’t it funny how our bad critics are the ones we are ranting about? I guess we should thank them for proving our point to the world. :)

  80. saki Says:

    some people just don’t care if they’re wrong. they just want to hear their voices. Seems like having a voice has become the only thing that matters!
    on one hand it’s fun to debate about things that don’t have a right or wrong answer, but when you get the people who flat out want to convince you of something stupid, like who to vote for, it just gets annoying.

  81. ivar Says:

    Aren’t YOU really the one “acting like [you] know what [you're] talking about” ?

  82. ChaplinFan Says:

    I know I am a little late, but I have to add my all time favorite one. The one where everyone assumes they are a counselor. I had a past friend do this to me. If something was going on this individual would try to consult me and tell me I am not working hard in being happier. This was the same person I was trying to save a friendship with-something I never even attempted to do since I usually just left. I would speak to others and hear something completely different even from my doctors. In the long run, I was actually getting out more and more willing to go out with people than ever before. The only thing this person appeared to be doing is struggling with their only little skeletons….just an observation…no counselor here. I believe everyone can be a jerk (me), but I also know there are some people who need to refrain from giving advice to others because at times they only make things worse. In the end, I ended it with this friend and as difficult as it was to walk away…it has been a relief in the long run. I don’t think I could have handled someone always telling me I needed to do this and that….Just wanted a friend and some how got someone who seemed to only want to be a “counselor” to me.

  83. Rocadero Says:

    What a humorously ironic article!

  84. Ron Says:

    Here are a few more examples of idiots. The person who overstates the facts many times over so much so that they are trying to convince themselves what they are saying is true when they really know nothing about it and then will not admit they are wrong anyway. There is also the idiot that will listen to your advice or knowledge but then go on believing and doing the same thing. They are the idiots that believe ignorance is bliss.
    Example: a person who has heard and seen all of the thousands of facts proving evolution and the Big Bang but still goes on believing in creation by a higher power.

  85. Nikhil Jagga Says:

    My parents define fake experts. Any clever tricks so I don’t have to rip my ears off every time they talk to me?

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