"I don't know anything about art, but I know what I don't like..."

In the past few days, I’ve seen several posts that started with “I haven’t studied X, but here’s what I think about it…” and then proceeds to say something idiotic. So I wanted to flame them, flame them all. Grrrrrr. How imbecilic can people be?

  • I don’t know anything about math, but I’ll answer this probability problem incorrectly so I can be pleased at seeing my name on the screen.

  • I don’t know anything about religions, but I know they’re all really the same.

  • I don’t know anything about Kosovo, but I know it’s wrong for those bombs to make so much noise at night, that’s noise pollution.

  • I don’t know anything about word origins, but my second cousin on my mother’s side told my great-aunt that the origin of the expression “whole nine yards” was from the San Francisco 49ers who panned nine yards of water per hour…

Sheeeeeesh! Where do these people get off? The spirit of the Straight Dope is to LOOK THINGS UP, right? To read, right? To learn, right? … rather than just have a freaking opinion based on nothing whatsover. Or, worse, based on a “friend of a friend told me…”

I would tend to agree wholehartedly, yet I have probably been guilty of something like that myself here. Except my “opinions” are usually “the universal truth”, at least that’s how I see it. (Sue me.)

As for the phrase “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like”, it’s not a bad thing at all. It shows someone having a positive visceral response to something, rather than stretching to appreciate something they “should”. I work in a museum and deal with a lot of art and people looking at art, and that phrase is actually one of the better ones one can hear.

(A friend of a friend told me that it was actually first uttered by a Texas oilman, at a gallery somewhere.)

“Then you learn the lesson,
That it’s tough to be so cool …”

Excellent point, CD! Especially in regards to the spirit of the Straight Dope!


Don’t meddle in the affairs of dragons, cuz, like, you’re crunchy
and taste good with ketchup.

Well, I don’t know much about nothin’, but I do know snobbery when I see it!

Come on Dex! Half the fun of this board is that you can say “No, you’re wrong…and this is why…” If everybody bothered to look up the answer to every question, each thread would be about 2 posts long! The absolutely absurd theories you read here all all part of the fun.

When you set someone (or me) straight on a gross overgeneralization or just plain falsehood, they are usually either grateful for the correction or just disappear.

That said, I must admit that I am irritated by people who persist in their faulty logic even after it’s been pointed out to them in excutiating detail. Some people just won’t admit to losing an arguement.

Nine yards of water! I think that theory is as worthy of a post as any other I’ve heard.

No, P’bear, I didn’t mean everyone should go look up the answers. I was really targeting the people who persist in repeating idiotic wrong answers. Like the folks who are still trying to say that the Monty Hall problem has 50/50 odds, or the folks who keep coming up with the same ten or eleven “origins” of the whole nine yards, or…

Now, just stand still there, P’bear, while I distract you, my associate is gonna surruptitiously clip out one of your kidneys to sell on the black market…

I don’t know much about orthography, but my cousins’-roomates’-gynecologists’-mechanics’- lube rack operator informs me that’s not how folks spell surreptitiously.

CK, luv, I can’t speak for everyone, but I would assume that when people begin a sentence with “I don’t know much about…” they are making it clear that they are not trying to come off as an expert in whatever matter is at hand and they are merely conveying their opinions based on what knowledge they have received, either from brief study or word of mouth. BTW thanks for remembering me in regards to religion, but I could swear that, not only did I begin my particular sentence with “I haven’t done much studying”, I also included “from what I understand” somewhere in the middle. It is logical to assume that when a person uses phraseology such as that, they are inviting someone to clarify or correct them by offering factual input.

Anyway, what’s the big deal? Do you have a problem with being the most intelligent person on the entire board?

My dear CK:
I know how you feel… At work I have heard countless times stuff like: “I’m not a lawyer, and don’t know much about laws, but I heard that it’s illegal to… blah, blah, blah!”

But isn’t this the right place for people like that to get their well deserved dose of whipping?

I guess you’ve been a moderator for a long time, and you’re kind of frustrated. It’s ok. Venting is good. Just take it easy, relax for a while, take a deep breathe, and go back to kick some a…!!!
We need you there! :slight_smile:

Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe absurdities.

“Fighting ignorance since 1973”
Doesn’t it say that somewhere on here?

There is a difference between “factual ignorance” and “hearsay ignorance.” Aren’t sound thrashings much more satisfying to Dopers when administered to people who think they are stating facts but who are, in fact, in error? I know I am constantly getting myself in hot water over my “facts” but that’s the reason I treasure Unca Cecil and this board - it ferrets out my ignorance and points me in the right direction, and gets other people thinking as well. (I cannot count the times I’ve said, to myself, “hey, I thought that, too…”). Like RTA says, what we think is a “universal truth” might turn out to be incredibly wrong - and does it not behoove us to correct these deficiencies?

People who preface their remarks with a statement of ignorance on the topic are denying us the benefit of their “factual ignorance” and instead posing someone else’s
hearsay ignorance in its stead (and very little, if any facts to thrash them on).

Dex is right, if you’re going to be tied to the SD whipping post, at least give us something we can sink our intellectual teeth into instead of wimping out with a FOF introduction.

The most terrible moments of my life are those immediately after I’ve hit the “submit reply” button.

A Mod’s Lament
-Sung to the tune of (What a) Wonderful World
It helps to envision Herman’s Hermits
and Peter Noone’s bad teeth.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about Cecil’s books
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that she told you
N’if I’d repeat it they’d believe it too
What a wonderful board this would be

Cecil himself has said, “I don’t want your freakin’ opinion, I want FACTS!”

This from GQ:

i heard a rumour the other day that carbon dating was hopelessly unreliable and was
confused, is this true or just another unfounded attempt at discrediting science?

Good Lord. HALP!