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Willful Ignorance on Parade (James Bach’s Blog)

On December 22, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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Michael Bolton is accused of hand-waving in this thread on LinkedIn. (See the comment by Peter).

Michael and I talk a lot about cognition and exploration. We speak in tropes that come from philosophy and various branches of science. Once in a while, some fellow who understands little of what we say assumes that we just made it all up to impress the ladies.

It brings to mind the Large Hadron Collider. Here’s an excerpt from one of their bulletins:

“The very smooth and fast transition to operation with ions was made possible by very good beam instrumentation performance with a relatively low number of charges per bunch, and magnetic behaviour very similar to operation with protons, as expected. These two factors combined allowed the setting-up operations to be completed very quickly, and stable beam operation, with 2 bunches per beam, was achieved in just a few days.”

Gee, if you know nothing about physics, or the LHC project, this might sound very much like hand-waving, too! In this case, however, if it sounds sketchy, it’s probably more about the receiver than the source. After all, there really is a $10 billion device sitting in the ground with 4000 physicists poring over the data it generates.

As ambitious professionals, we need to be able to speak about complex subjects without constantly going back to kindergarten to bring along the people who refuse to study their own craft.

I don’t mind if an earnest seeker, who happens to be ignorant, asks what seems to be a silly question. I will help everyone who wants to learn. And I don’t mind the assertive dissenter who has done the homework and yet has a different style and judgment from mine.

I’m talking about something different: the willfully ignorant blowhard.

Please don’t be like that.

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