I recently joined a discussion listserve group. It uses an old-fashioned technology, email, to communicate people’s missives to the group. People are then free to comment. It mostly consists of people posting really stupid stuff, other people pointing out how stupid the stuff is, and then the posters of stupid stuff complain about how the meanies are insulting them. By and large, I side with the meanies here. In a vain and futile effort to raise the intellectual level of the discussion, or maybe just to get a few people to think a little about their approach, I composed my own little missive:
Are you a newbie or a noob?
Here’s a simple little analogy.
In the tech world, there’s an important distinction between noobs and
Newbies are beginners in whatever field is relevant at the moment. They are learning. They admit they don’t know very much about the topic at hand. They seek information and advice from people who know stuff. They try stuff, they often don’t do so great the first few times, but they learn from their mistakes and keep trying. All of this is fine. There’s nothing wrong with being a newbie.
Noobs, in contrast, think that they know stuff. They have a teensy-tinesy bit of knowledge in the field, and they think they’re experts. Perhaps a noob has watched a half-hour YouTube tutorial on the topic at hand, and now feels qualified to poo-poo assertions made by people with advanced degrees and years of practical experience in that field. Noobs are closed-minded and fundamentally untrainable.
When you state your opinion on matters where you’re not a genuine expert, ask yourself “am I being a newbie or a noob?” Do you admit the limits of your own knowledge and expertise? Are you summarily dismissing a broad consensus of legitimate experts based solely on your preconceived notions? Are you cherry-picking little tidbits of actual information which ostensibly support your assertion while ignoring the vast sea of evidence which contradicts it? Do you only listen to “experts” who agree with you even if their expertise is in a field not
closely related to the matter at hand? Do you conjure up ludicrous conspiracy theories to explain why hardly anybody listens to the truth as you see it? Do you continue to use the same arguments over and over
long after they’ve been conclusively debunked many times over?