Professional Hubris

Thomas Jefferson Jackson See

The man in the picture was an astronomer who lived from 1866 to 1962, earning himself an impressive early reputation for his studies at the University of Missouri and later earning a PhD from the University of Berlin in the field of Mathematics. His credentials were good, but See found himself at odds with the rest of the astronomical society for his arguments and behaviour. Arrogance led to dismissals and faulty observations. A stubborn refusal to acknowledge incorrect positions led to See losing any credibility, especially when he launched into tirades against Albert Einstein of all people.

You may be wondering what the purpose of this post is. It’s a reflection upon the pompous nature of people. I am aware of individuals who have an inflated sense of importance and an astonishing arrogance regarding their arguments, to the point where even information from people far more qualified than they is ignored. I’ve encountered this within sci-fi discussions, social discussions, political discussions and most recently, discussions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s a scenario that you’ll see all the time on social media. An individual who is qualified and experienced in any given field will post something, and then a random person whose looked up something on Google for five minutes will come along and insist their minute research is worth as much as the expert’s years of study and research. I’ll grant that See himself did spend years studying his field, but like the Facebook posters, he wouldn’t listen to the evidence of people more qualified than himself.

Don’t be that person. Don’t assume your five minutes of internet searches means you’re as qualified as a professional whose worked in their chosen fields for years. Don’t be argumentative for the sake of it. Scale back your hubris.

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