Sunday, June 24, 2007

Those of you who think you know it all are very annoying

Those of you who think you know it all are very annoying to those of us who do.

I have seen this quote on posters outside the office or dorm room doors over the years many times. Each time, actually knowing them to be pretty bright people, I think the occupant of the room was only half-joking and I would think to myself,

"Well, you're rather impressed with yourself, now aren't you?"

I have now joined the ranks of the annoyed, a privilege I have earned by growing old and cranky. Here are some examples of the annoying people who have pushed me over the edge.

People who say,
"Having Ph.D. doesn't mean you're smart. I know lots of really stupid Ph.D.'s
First of all, I doubt the speaker knows lots of stupid Ph.D.'s. I am sure I know more people with doctorates than the average man/ woman on the street and I cannot say I know anyone who is stupid who has a Ph.D. I know people with doctorates who are arrogant, have the maternal instincts of a turtle, the moral fiber of a banana slug and the endearing social skills of a wolverine, but I don't know any who are actually stupid.

Phrased another way, this becomes,
"You think you're smarter than me just because you have a doctorate."
No, I think I am smarter than you because you just asked me if I wanted fries with that. The truth is, I never am thinking about whether I am smarter than anyone, unless they bring it up. I am usually thinking about how to best explain Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance to a group of graduate students, or how to add multimedia to our website and still make it accessible to people with low-bandwidth connections or ways to get someone in the family other than me to change the cat litter. I have yet to find acceptable answers to any of those questions, in case you are wondering.

Since you brought it up, though.... Just like everyone else with higher education, I went to college for years. During that time, I stayed awake in almost all of my classes, read the textbooks and didn't skip class to go to parties and get wasted (well, not very often, anyway). Do I think that means that I have a higher IQ score than someone who did not do those things. Well, in fact, research (some of it done by me) shows that higher IQ is related to educational achievement, but it is by no means a perfect correlation. It is, therefore, possible that you are smarter than me and I am just a harder worker, or a less heavy user of alcohol and drugs. Exactly why did you bring this up?

I will be fair here and say that it is true that many people I know with doctorates, M.D.s, J.D.'s , etc. had all of the breaks. They went to the best prep schools, had a trust fund that paid all their expenses in college, never had to work their way through school and were not one eyelash more gifted than the children of their family maid or gardener who never had that chance. Those people generally believe that they made it all because they are so brilliant and hard-working, and they annoy me, too. Not as much as they used, to, though.

The fact is, even if they were born with a silver spoon, they studied and they tried to find some useful life's work instead of becoming Paris Hilton.

The next-to-last group who have me really longing for, as my niece says, the power to smite people, are those who confuse the possession of some obscure fact or trivial skill for intelligence. These people seem to be all over, like chiggers, and have the same personal attractiveness.

They will casually interject into the conversation the exact date at which it was decided that Pluto was not a planet or the original Aramaic name for Jerusalem or (I am not kidding), say "It is a matter of physics - like e = mc-squared," - and then they actually give the VALUE of the square of the velocity of light in scientific notation.

Then they will look at you, wide-eyed and say, 'What, you didn't know that?'
NOTE TO ANNOYING PEOPLE: Knowing an obscure fact or two, or even fourteen, does not make you intelligent or educated. It just makes you annoying. Of course, you already knew that, which is why you are reading this note.

The last group of people who are really annoying are those who make comments like,
"What you have a Ph.D. and you don't know how to operate a cappuccino machine?"
"Your husband doesn't know his own parents' address and he has all of that education?"

This may come as a surprise to some people, but when my husband was taking his exams during his doctoral program in particle physics, "Where do your parents live?" was not one of the questions.

Furthermore, there were no courses in my doctoral program on cappuccino machine operation, although, I am fairly confident that, if I so desired, I could learn not only how to operate a cappuccino machine but how to design and build one.

However, I don't have time because I am too busy trying to develop the power to smite annoying people from afar.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post was very funny.But, right on point about annoying people.You are a brilliant lady.Not just because of your P.hD/IQ etc..