Social Question

Jenniehowell's avatar

When is a "know it all" actually a know it all?

Asked by Jenniehowell (2214points) February 25th, 2011

I have had a few debates with a certain guy lately via FB comments & so far it just happens that I’ve been the one who presented the facts in the arguments & proved the other guy wrong. (that isn’t always the case but in the last few I’ve miraculously managed to be right & factual)

Now this guy doesn’t comment on my statuses but he will post a counter status and then in the discussions on his page with his friends he makes a snide remark about people who are “know it all” types and then generalize/insinuate to my status.

I’m wondering – though they really may not know it all – does it make sense to call someone a “know it all” if they actually do know more than you about a topic via both facts/research & experience? Doesn’t it make a person look as if they have some ego issues if they behave this way, rather than simply deal with their lack of knowledge and try learning something new for a change?

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26 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

The guy is insecure. Instead of commenting on how impressed he is with your knowledge, he feels overshadowed by it.

JLeslie's avatar

By the way, this is why you should stick with fluther. We like people who know a lot of information.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Yea, cuz nobody on Fluther is a know-it-all.

FutureMemory's avatar

Generally I think it’s applied to people that act like they know it all. They feel they are (and always will be) right about the topic at hand.

JilltheTooth's avatar

But…but… @FutureMemory I am always right!

jerv's avatar

I have usually only heard that term be uttered by those that are intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant. After all, facts are for losers; there are more important things in life like drinking beer and using your heart instead of your head.

Of course, spewing out all sorts of facts can intimidate people and make them feel/act all defensive.

FutureMemory's avatar

I would agree though that it’s often used by those that have sour grapes over being incorrect. My father often says I’m a know-it-all, but guess what he says even more frequently:

“You’re right”.

gasman's avatar

I learned never to trust anybody who has an opinion about everything. It’s not humanly possible, hence a sign of confabulation and affectation. You’re supposed to learn when to say, “I don’t know.” There are plenty of smart people, however, with broad knowledge of many subjects. Ken Jennings, to name one.

When it comes to citing “facts” to support an argument, quality trumps quantity.

AstroChuck's avatar

<- Know-it-all

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie thanks – I agree I think this guy’s a bit insecure

@incendiary_dan LOL yeah no one on fluther…

@FutureMemory I was thinkin the same thing – which of course made me a bit paranoid about myself – I think that I have no shortage at one point or another in my life of having the holier than thou attitude when it comes to knowing about certain topics so I was wondering if that may be the way I was coming across – I don’t think I was though… I’ve made a particular effort in the recent few years to improve myself in that area and in all cases with this guy & FB in general I have tended toward making sure to be respectful etc. This guy seems to have a tendency toward discounting easily provable facts and then making his own up and claiming them to be true with no reference of any sort to back his claims. For instance, in one of the debates he claimed that the entire Old Testament of the Christian Bible was in Aramaic & actually argued when he was presented with exactly the chapters which were in Aramaic vs. those in Hebrew.

My goal in general via FB is to present facts/truths along with references and then I use those things to back my opinion. Though my opinion is usually strong, I always am willing to change it when presented with new and factual info. I was wondering if I came across too strongly but I have the feeling I didn’t – though I was paranoid that even though my wording wasn’t too strong my inner vibe & judgment of the guy was somehow coming across in the verbiage. Who knows….

Like you.. my family via our email debates have come to a similar place where they now ask me the facts first before spouting out their opinions because they are so used to me proving them wrong with the facts – to me that works out better cause at least even if I disagree with them I feel like they’re forming their opinions around some factual things. It’s probably some sort of ego related weakness on my part but the whole insecure defensive thing is definitely in the top of my pet peeves list.

@JilltheTooth – LOL

@jerv – I mostly agree – granted, I’ve come across those types who no matter what the conversation is about they somehow manage to claim an exact experience so they can be a part of the conversation. To me that’s a bit of the “know it all” vibe but slightly different.

@gasman LOL – your statement had me stepping back to consider whether or not I have any sort of concrete opinion on everything – luckily there are some things that I’m totally neutral and/or clueless about so I think I’ve passed muster. I agree RE: “quality trumps quantity” – I figure logic comes before knowledge in many cases – what’s the point of being able to spout out a million facts and statistics if you don’t have the intellect to link it up in a logical way? I am way in support of logic (even though I have moments where I lack it now and then)

Thanks everyone!! I was hoping I wasn’t going nuts or coming across in too negative a way – hopefully it’s all good and I’m having a stable moment rather than a nutty one. LOL

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, sometimes people feel threatened by people who DO know some things that they didn’t know.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III I get that a lot due to the depth and breadth of my knowledge and my willingness to display said knowledge. I sometimes think I would be more popular if I didn’t know half of what I know.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell So, if you care about him being comfortable you are going to have to know less around him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What’s a real bitch @jerv is when you’re just doing something without really thinking about it, all by yourself, and people start looking at you all crazy. I mean, when you aren’t even trying to display some amazing knowledge, or telling someone about it….and the thing is, it’s not even amazing stuff, really.
For example, I worked briefly at a small newspaper office. Their ways of doing things hadn’t changed since the 70’s. They had just gotten computers in 2004 or something and they used them ONLY for the program that was loaded specifically for their business. Anyway, I started putting all my files on the computer. like I made a super easy ad word calculator on Excell rather than putting it on an old, long, green paper ledger and figuring it out by hand. I made a template in word for a letter, or fax to people asking if they wanted to advertise with us. I used rather than the paper dictionary that they gave me to use. I’d put links into letters to customers that I was going to email. They thought I was just being a show-off. I really rocked their boat!

incendiary_dan's avatar

You know what I love? When people tell me I’m wrong about something I studied for almost a decade now, got a degree in, and spent hours writing a carefully articulated argument so they could see I know what I’m talking about, only to be met with unsubstantiated rebuttals of “romanticizing”. It’s particularly annoying when I’ve built up a credible case that they’re, in fact, the ones doing the romanticizing by ignoring a huge body of evidence.

Apparently Goebells was right. If you just repeat something often enough it becomes true.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, and don’t forget the yelling part which REALLY makes it true!!

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Sounds like the story of my life :D
@incendiary_dan Wikipedia is full of accurate, true information that anybody can edit. Let me give you a few minutes to ponder the implications ;)

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie good question – I don’t think there will ever be a time where I dumb myself down for anyone, but I may attempt to be more cordial considering he thinks me to be a know it all – I think I have a higher sense of my responses to him so as not to appear to come across in the way I tend to have an urge to – which is to basically reply by saying something about how odd and illogical it seems to me for a guy who knows very little to call a person who knows even one thing more than he does a know it all in any sort of sarcastic way. It’s definitely something that challenges my own beliefs with regards to how I should behave when I find myself irritated with people who act like this guy tends to act, but I remind myself that by me responding in an idiotic fashion would be just the thing needed for his point to actually be true. LOL

@incendiary_dan I think that is pretty much the predicament I’m in – so far each of the things this guy has been wrong about have been things I’ve studied for years due to either degree or interest. All he has to do is catch me on something he has expertise in & I’ll look like the idiot rather than him. What I generally find though is that there are particular topics that uninformed or uneducated people tend to get “romantic & passionate” about as if the propaganda they’ve been force fed is the end all be all – politics, religion, gender issues, child-rearing & history. I’m wondering what else is left after that to talk about though… It’s not like I’m gonna sit around talking about accounting or crochet LOL It’s just unfortunate that our society is so caught up in the hive mind scenario that people think if it’s said enough times or by enough people then it has to be true. Sometimes I feel sorry for the next generation LOL

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell I did not mean dumb yourself down, but aybe realize he is limited in a way, or not as able as you to understand or discuss certain things. If you were talking to someone who was only 14 years old you would understand they are not able to keep up with certain conversations due to limited knowledge. So it is not dumbing yourself down, but being appropriate with your audience so to speak. Your ability to access who you are speaking to by their verbal and physical responses, to read them, has to do with you. Something you seem to want to do better. I am not criticizing, I think it is great you asked this question.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Matter of perspective. Then again, I have often had to dumb myself down so that people with limited knowledge can keep up with me since I was pretty damn young.

As for your statement, “Your ability to access who you are speaking to by their verbal and physical responses, to read them, has to do with you.”, well, lets just say that even now, I don’t always remember that others are limited compared to me though my ability to read people is one limit I do have that most people don’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv matter of perspective meaning it is dumbing oneself down if you limit your conversatin basedon the other persons ability? I think of dumbing oneself down as a way to kind of trick or manipulate the other person. Like the old school women should let the man know more for instance. But, that is just my own definition I guess.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I guess we do have different definitions. What you call “dumbing down”, I would call “playing dumb”; something rather different.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie thanks for the explanation – I on some level agree with @jerv in that what you are defining as “dumbing down” is more like “playing dumb” – to me playing dumb is more manipulative but dumbing down is just making yourself seem less intelligent so that the others around you won’t feel inferior.

I would speak to a 14 year old in the same way I would speak to this guy. Which is to basically correct him in his false statements, provide him with the facts & then further provide him with the references which prove what the facts are – then be willing to discuss the topic further if necessary.

I don’t think it serves me or the rest of the world to discontinue providing correct and factual statements and references for people in discussions due to concern over someone’s ego driven responses. I feel like to do that would be to slow down or hinder the learning process or remove the chance for someone to gain a knowledge that will help improve society even just one increment. I would feel/do feel the same way with my own scenarios. I appreciate it when I get facts that help me learn something new. In the end, I would rather sacrifice my own pleasant environment due to responses from people like this guy than to imagine yet another person walking through the world uninformed and perpetuating whatever the results of that ignorance is.

It’s just frustrating sometimes to deal with that unpleasantness that goes along with someone who has an issue with their ego &/or emotional maturity & ends up getting adolescent in their response & it then challenges my own sensibilities in that it makes me want to reply in a way that reminds him that it is a bit illogical to call someone a know it all when that person in fact knows more than you.

JLeslie's avatar

Interesting. I guess I would just say less is what I meant, so not lowering what I know, just letting it slide in my mind. Now I realize people use the terms differently.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@JLeslie hmmm interesting thought… RE:the less… I’m not sure that’s possible – with a short status update and a link to back it up – if someone comes popping onto my page with false info, I’m not sure I could leave it un-addressed & if that person is an amazingly baser person or low level IQ &/or knowledge on the subject it’s likely impossible to provide them with the facts in short statements.

Reason being… generally people who are fear-filled, unintelligent and have a brain filled with a mushy mess of propaganda that enables them to perpetuate the drama of their lives in a constant state of denial are very resistant to truth. I actually wonder sometimes whether there’s actually hope for those types & then in an effort to never give up hope for a more intelligent world full of people more willing to research facts rather than marinate in their fear, I end up blurting out facts and references. Just like the 14 year olds you made reference to before – people blinded by denial and/or low levels of knowledge tend to take longer rather than shorter bits of information to get the complete picture. It’s almost as if they’ve been kidnapped by a mob of stupid and they need to be de-programmed to cure them of the Stockholm syndrome that has them believing stupid is the way the truth and the light.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jenniehowell I competely get what you are saying, amd am similarly compelled to show where the other person is a nonthinking, uninformed, idiot. I actually don’t start from the place of idiot, I don’t think people who disagree with me are idiots, simpy for disagreeing; I get to idiot when they are unwilling to hear new information, to consider another point of view.

I think it depends on the person, it is more complicated than simply they don’t have all the facts. If it is a friend or family member who needs to believe what they believe, and seems unreceptive to outside information, your constantly being contrary will be seen as “know it all” and they won’t like being around you, because those people don’t like debate, they like to be surrounded by those who agree with them. Those people there is no poin tin stating your facts, they are closed off, they don’t want to listen to you. They are giving you the signal they cannot listen, but you persist.

There are many people who are on tne opposite end of the political and religious spectrum of me, or know less than me about certain topics who do want to debate and hear and learn new information, fluther is exactly that, but there are many people out there who don’t want to learn something new, or are incapable for one reason or another.

I say it has to do with cognitive dissonance. They have a construct of the world, their world, with a fear that one change will bring down all the walls, causing the sky to fall. Especially regarding religion and poltics this is true in my opinion. I have heard religious Christians say, “if one thing in the bible is wrong, then the whole thing is wrong.” So they must believe everything is exactly right and perfect in that book, no thinking allowed. And, for some of tose people that way of thought spreads into all areas of their life. Probabaly the very religious in all religions are similar to this. And, or course their are non religious people who have concrete thinking as well, but it does seem to me, could be wrong, religious people are more inclined.

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