Morons and idiots (was: Nuance)

Subject: Morons and idiots (was: Nuance)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 10:48:24 -0500

Sean O'Donoghue-Hayes reports: <<I note that Andrew has twice used the
expression "I am a moron" in emails. This is getting very seriously, I
suggest that we re-animate his depleted ego>>

<snort> Re-animate? <snort again> But a bit more seriously, I'd like to
suggest that the notion of being an idiot isn't so shameful as it might
seem. I used to use a specific signature (sig) line that highlighted the
importance of being dumb, and have actually published a couple articles on
the topic: "As an editor, I sometimes describe my job as being a
'professional idiot'. The 'professional' part is easy: I'm good at what I
do, and get paid to do it (unlike an amateur idiot, about which those who
know me will nod knowingly). The idiot part is a bit more complicated: I do
my best to misunderstand any writing, even something that the reader might
figure out after a bit of work--but then I figure out why the
misunderstanding occurred and fix it so that nobody else will ever trip over
it."-Geoff Hart (ca. 1997)

So there are advantages to being an idiot that might not seem so obvious at
first glance. Our ability to think of things as if we were newcomers to a
topic ("playing dumb", because we actually know far more than newcomers)
gives us a powerful tool for revising and simplifying a text. Worth

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"I don't necessarily believe everything I say."--Marshall McLuhan


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