On sophists and sophisms

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

— (attributed to) Mark Twain

I’ve met people, both online and IRL, who believe that if they’re schooled they must also be educated. People who believe that the educational funnel they went through must have made them better than the rest.

Although the last statement might be true, in some regards, they tend to extend its meaning to being better than others with a number of years of practical experience equivalent to their years of study.

It’s often not the case.

You see, after you’ve studied software development for four years, in university, you’re an amazing theoretician. But that’s it!

You probably can parrot out all the principles of object-oriented programming, every SOLID principle, how actors interact with systems and draw CRC cards for library book management systems.

But what you don’t know is how to use those patterns. When to break one of the SOLID principles in favour of a shorter delivery time.

You don’t know when to say — “Fuck this, I’m just going to duplicate this piece of functionality, get the ball rolling and see from there!”.

You see, I’ve heard some (not few) formally schooled people uttering a plethora of sophisms like they’ve discovered the true meaning of life and the origin of absolute truth. Until it came time to put their money where their mouth is.

The chin-scratching, armchair-thinking, pipe-smoking attitude quickly wore off when they had to touch the keyboard, pick up the screwdriver or the scissors.

Indeed, there are many people at the other extreme who act like specialists even though they’re not worth 2 cents. But it’s easy to deal with those people: you ignore them and don’t allow them to work.

The biggest problem you can have is a stupid person who’s also zealous and wants to “work”.

But the danger that comes along with listening to educated fools is far bigger than that of listening to poor uneducated fools.

Because it’s hard to ignore the former category, mostly due to the belief that educated people “know better”.

But they’re often poor fools, too.

And the outcome of listening to such people and following their advice is dismal!

We very easily forget it’s easy to learn something but it’s very difficult to unlearn. Especially if you had a hard time learning in the first place.

This is why — I think — they must believe that if it was hard for them to learn, whatever they learnt must be true, and whatever the other people don’t know, compared to them, makes them stupid or unfitting and they should have nothing to say about it.

Poor, educated, sophist fools.


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