Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Loser Character Flaw, Well Put

Usually when the Complete and Total Loser reads descriptions of bad people that he thinks apply to him too, the people he's reading about—homicidal maniacs, serial killers, hoarders—are, despite the similarities, clearly not him. Does he live by himself and have no intimate relationships? Yes. Is he underemployed? Check. Does he think he's smarter than those who supervise him? Yup. Does he feel he's been cheated out of many of the good things in life by circumstances beyond his control? You bet! Is his refrigerator used to store the body parts of his victims? No.
In the Up Front section of the Nov. 15, 2009 New York Times Book Review, however, the Loser read a description that fits him. He is, it seems, an academic. This surprised the Loser. His image of academics is of men and women with no fashion sense, which is fine as they wear dark robes over their clothes, and spend their lives surrounded with laboratory equipment or books, seldom cognizant of the outside world even when they leave it for their sabbaticals, not rich but successful thanks to raw brainpower and the ability to apply it.

It's not, however, the trappings of academia that make an academic. It's the attitude. And the Loser has the worst of it. Here's the pertinent part, quoting Steven Pinker: "Academics lack perspective. In a debate on whether the world is round, they would argue 'no,' because it's an oblate spheroid. They suffer from 'the curse of knowledge': the inability to imagine what it's like not to know something that they know. That makes them underestimate the sophistication of readers and write in motherese rather than explaining concepts from the ground up."
This explains much of the Loser's social interactions and responses he gets from others. It explains, to him anyway, why he's so often regarded as "patronizing" and "condescending," adjectives he's too dense to get how they could possibly apply to him, though he's heard them again and again.
Is there a remedy?

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