Genuine Knowledge

This is a pretty random post, but here goes…

Over the last few years, people spouting off about subjects they know nothing about has gradually tilted me more and more.  I’ve also come to realize that very few people know a lot about more than a few narrow subjects, yet many proclaim their “opinion” about so many different areas as if they’re an expert.  You might ask, what brought this post on?  Two main things: football season and the presidential race.

I am so incredibly sick of the sports fanatic culture I can’t even begin to describe it.  The reason is that, more than any area I can think of, the sports fan culture is filled with wannabe experts who, upon closer inspection, don’t know anything at all.  The odd part is that I used to be absolutely crazy about sports, although that phase ended about five years ago.  But even then, it used to bother me whenever I’d end up talking about sports with “typical” Philadelphia sports fans.  And if you’re from Philadelphia, I’m sure you know the type.  They listen to 610 WIP (the sports talk radio station), they love reading editorial pieces in the Inquirer and Daily News, they don’t miss a single Comcast SportsNet SportsNite (the local version of SportsCenter) broadcast ever, they wear an Eagles jersey every game Sunday, etc.  I’m sure every city has them, although I have to believe that these Philadelphians are particularly annoying.  I don’t mind their fanaticism.  What bothers me a lot is when they spout off about their supposedly incredible knowledge of NFL defensive schemes, offensive lineman (seriously, does anyone really know anything about offensive lineman that they deduced on their own without any help from Chris Mortensen or John Clayton?), draft picks or whatever else they feel the need to constantly talk about.  They don’t have the slightest bit of what I would call “genuine knowledge” on any of those subjects.  Yet they repeat exactly what they heard on Comcast SportsNet a few days before as if it’s gospel… “oh yea, such and such new defensive package is going to give Eli Manning fits, you can bet the house on that one!”.  Honestly, I go on lifetilt when I hear those types of conversations among people who really think they know what they’re talking about.  It makes me feel like I’m listening to a couple brainwashed children repeat the talking points they’ve received in their latest session… it’s just pathetic.

Moving on, it’s the same thing with the presidential election.  People hear something on CNN or Fox News and they then repeat it like it’s definitely true.  I hear and read stuff like “oh yea, McCain knows way more about foreign policy than Obama so he has to be the better candidate for dealing with Iraq.”  When I hear that I want to stab my eyes out.  Seriously — how dumb are people?  If poker has taught me anything, it’s that for every extremely smart individual, there are at least ten complete buffoons.  People come up with retarded conclusions/rationalizations (I’ve hit three club flushes in a row, they’re lucky for me!) on a constant basis.  They hear some guy on Fox spout off about McCain’s experience versus Obama’s experience and they take it as fact!  These people seemingly have no idea that everyone has agendas, especially in politics.  That guy talking about McCain and Obama probably has a strong viewpoint (pro-McCain if he’s on Fox) and he’s going to do whatever it takes to back that viewpoint up.  But the average person is too dumb to filter through the crap they’re being fed, so they just repeat it like gospel.  No genuine knowledge.  No first-hand research.  These people couldn’t tell you the first thing about McCain or Obama’s foreign policy work except that “McCain has been involved in it for longer than Obama.”  Shouldn’t that be like the 170th most important factor in someone’s decision-making process when they’re voting on an issue?  Of course McCain has been involved in things for longer, the guy is 25 years older than Obama.

I’m getting off-topic though.  My point is that I really appreciate talking to people with genuine knowledge of a subject.  For instance, getting back to the sports thing, if someone says “Such and such is a great guard because he’s only given up two sacks per year over the last three years and he also run blocks well, as evidenced by [some running back's] 1400 yards per year.”  That doesn’t bother me one bit.  Or if someone said “I think McCain has a better understanding of [some subject] because his voting record over the last five years, in retrospect, has turned out to be far more correct than Obama.”  Despite the fact that the sports guy might not know if the RB’s performance had to do with the OL and that the politics example is pretty results-oriented, I can respect people’s opinions when they bring ACTUAL knowledge to the table.  They don’t spout off simplistic lines about NFL defensive packages.  Now, if the same person could explain WHY that defensive package was going to stop Eli Manning, I might respect their opinion.  But simply repeating what they heard on TV?  I don’t think so.  There’s no genuine knowledge there.  Or, as the Gertrude Stein saying goes, there’s no there there.

To wrap this up, I don’t know why I posted this.  I guess it’s just a tilt, which I need to do every once in awhile on here.  Next time you hear someone spewing bullshit about sports or politics or about something they obviously heard on TV or read on the internet the night before, please call them out on it.  You’re doing the world a huge service by calling out the morons.

8 thoughts on “Genuine Knowledge

  1. Dan

    How can you say such things? Honestly people talking about these things make the world a less boring place. As much as you might think people are claiming to be “experts” its really just people talking about what they enjoy talking about. I know football but I don’t claim to be the schwab. That doesn’t give you the right to tell me that I can’t analyze a game based on my knowledge. And as for the presidential election, ignorance in America in politics is super high. There is no point arguing that people call themselves experts on that topic because no one really is. Half the political science majors that graduate college still have no idea what a clusterfuck american politics is.

    Anyways I just think you are being too arrogant on this topic and I think you should revisit your thoughts and take a more easy going lax approach to “these types of experts”.

  2. Nat Post author

    Dan,

    I wish I didn’t feel that way that I do about this, but I do. Can’t help the way that I feel I guess, for better or for worse. It tilts me.

    My solution, albeit juvenile, is to stay away from these types of people so I never hear their “expertise”. Keep in mind that it’s one thing to offer an opinion on a subject and it’s a whole other thing to repeat bullshit heard somewhere else as if it was your own opinion. I have no problem with the former, but the latter bothers me.

  3. Nat Post author

    Oh, and I should clarify this part…

    “whole other thing to repeat bullshit heard somewhere else as if it was your own opinion”

    I mean in cases where people repeat it because they think it’s the popular thing to say, not because it’s actually right or because they actually know a single thing about it.

  4. Nat Post author

    Steve,

    You missed the point of the post, so I feel I should respond.

    First, I work as an SEO. I blog for the hell of it, it is not my profession. I’d have a pretty sad income if it was my profession.

    Second, I am not saying that people cannot have opinions. When I write about something like bad URL management on 2p2, I am stating my opinion along with a reason for my opinion (read the page if you’d like to see why I feel that way). On the other hand, if I never did any research on 2p2, someone told me “oh yea, 2p2 has bad SEO” and then I repeated it as if I was an expert on 2p2′s SEO… well, that’s a different scenario altogether. I actively avoid doing the latter.

    Do you understand the difference now?

  5. Dan

    Nat,

    I understand your comments. I just don’t want you to get rubbed the wrong way by a genuine sports fan even if they happen to quote the morning sportscenter and act like its their own statement. I guess I can see where you were coming from in that respect cause sometimes it might get a little bit annoying. Anyways I’m just sharing my thoughts.

    BTW, I do enjoy your SEO blog and I understand how hard it is to be in that field. I’ve had several websites and SEO is the number one problem with most websites. SEO = money.

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