Miniblog #171: Calling Out Four Popular Tricks of the Faux Thinking Trade
I’m terribly vexed by those intellectually proud people who incessantly nitpick in order to sound smart yet offer little in the way of meaningful contribution. I’ve in mind four types of these guys.1 The first is the guy who uses typos2 to flippantly dismiss someone’s belief, opinion, or perspective. For example,1.And, no, I’m not using guys as an all-encompassing pronoun. For whatever reason, in my experience the perpetrators tend to be dudes. over the years I’ve met a number of these perfectionist goons who treat all dyslexics like morons because they commit the grave and sinister transgression of mistaking there, their, and they’re.32.i.e. spelling errors and grammatical mistakes The second is the guy who automatically discredits anyone who possesses less social capital.3.This just in: Get over yourself. This is the asshole who offhandedly dismisses the opinion of anyone who doesn’t come from an upper-class background or doesn’t have a PhD.44.I confess to finding it nearly impossible to be civil around such people. The third is the guy who criticizes a writer for essentially not dealing with every conceivable point in his/her piece.5 This is the numbskull who, after reading a 15-page sociological essay on Martin Luther King’s5.All the while almost completely ignoring its content. organizational strategies in the South, rejects the thesis’ validity because the author “should’ve” also addressed Malcolm X’s own organizational contributions in the Midwest and Northeast.66.Ducking all the issues while appearing insightful. Impressive. Most impressive. The final type is the guy who categorically writes-off all assertions of general trends as being innately misleading and simplistic. Examples of this are the geniuses who cite a handful of excellent evangelical scholars to (supposedly) disprove Mark Noll’s view that evangelicalism’s valuing of populist activism, and ethos of zealous pragmatism, has resulted in a widespread anti-intellectual culture.77.In sum, it’s far too easy to 1) be petty by criticizing people’s minor mistakes, 2) be condescending by discrediting them due to a lack of privilege or attainment, 3) be evasive by focusing on what should have been said instead of what was said, or 4) be difficult by perpetually playing the nuance card to sound clever. It’s a lazy mind that employs these tricks of the faux thinking trade. Let’s be honest. It takes bare minimum effort or skill to make oneself sound intelligent by dismissing, demeaning, deflecting, digressing, or otherwise being a dick. Conversely, what takes real intellectual effort and skill is humbly engaging, synthesizing, facilitating, gleaning, discerning, and creating. Be a real thinker, not a faux thinker.