Jan 23 2009

MyLife: I Am So Smart! I Am So Smart! S-M-R-T!

Published by at 3:59 pm under MyLife,social media

In my work for a range of clients, I often have to write various types of communications not only in the voice of that client, but with a degree of detailed technical expertise that one might think would require a minimum of training in that field.

Not so. In my years of “faking it” (and that’s really at bottom what what writing for others comes down to), I’ve learned to follow this proverb that I first heard a long time ago and have probably rendered incorrectly ever since:

“The secret to sounding smart is to imagine what someone much smarter than yourself would say… and then say that.”

It’s fun! And you can do it, too!

In the comments section, please write a paragraph on a topic of which you actually know nothing. Social media, marine biology, politics, coffee-making… whatever you like.

Write your passage in such a way that most people will naturally assume you know what you’re talking about. Except the actual experts. They’ll want to beat you (in which case, perhaps martial arts is a topic you’ll want to stay away from).

I will announce the winner of this contest of “most expert sounding paragraph from a non-expert” at some point in the future. Possibly Monday. Maybe in a month.

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18 responses so far

18 Responses to “MyLife: I Am So Smart! I Am So Smart! S-M-R-T!”

  1. Tanya (aka NetChick)on 23 Jan 2009 at 4:45 pm

    HEH! Love this… πŸ˜‰ Okay, I’ll bite! (and you should totally promote this post via the MEET n’ GREET on my blog!)

    Fish farming:

    Lakes and inlets are the traditional and inexpensive ways to hold spawning populations of pacific salmon. In parts of the world, the pond system has been made more efficient through the use of netting cages. The enclosures are designed so that they are about 200 square meters in size, and it’s not unusual to see many of these cages grouped together in “camps”. This separates the farm into more easily managed units.

  2. Mike Althouseon 23 Jan 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Actually, there is precious little that I don’t know at least something about. Okay, so that’s a stretch, but I don’t need to know too much about something to know BS when I smell it. Sounds like a fun game, though. I think I am perhaps so driven by research principles and journalistic reporting such that it precludes that kind of creativity on my part.

    Tanya sent me,


  3. Ruth Seeleyon 24 Jan 2009 at 8:47 am

    Thinks Mike should tackle something like “how to get the perfect haircut” or “successful pedicures” or something.

    I think I’ll tackle chicken sex and egg creation (without the help of Wikipedia).

    If you’ve ever stayed overnight in a rural area, you’ll notice that the birds are noisier than they are in the city. One bird in particular creates quite a ruckus in that hour or so before dawn. While the song isn’t exactly ‘cock a doodle doo,’ that’s the closest approximation we have in the English language. This is the sound of a rooster crowing. Why he is crowing? It’s a well known fact that he is celebrating the production of eggs by the hens in his flock, and alerting the farmers to the fact that freshly laid eggs are ready to be gathered for tasty omelets.

    Most of the eggs we buy at the supermarket (and indeed, are served on our farm-stay vacations), are not, in fact, fertilized. Anthropology notwithstanding, with only one rooster and sometimes upwards of 30 hens, while allowing for the fact that animal sex is usually (with the exception of bonobos) nasty, brutal and of very short duration, no one rooster could possibly ‘service’ all those hens twice a day. Evolution has, therefore, created a new role for the rooster, namely that of alarm clock and, as it, were, town crier regarding egg production.

  4. Monica Hamburgon 25 Jan 2009 at 9:07 am

    My knowledge of wine is exceptional. I have been a wine connoisseur extraordinaire since my youthful days when I would run away to visit the local vineyard. Which is why I was so disappointed with my glass of Talamut Cranbrese the other night. While I was expecting a warm embrace of chocolate notes with a hint of a mild (but defined) pepper junction, I was most incensed to taste nuances (however slight) of quiona. More appalling was its overall sedentary flavor which did not caress my palate so much as assault it in a somewhat passive-aggressive way. I also detected a hint of a mild (but episodic) flavor as though of HP sauce.

    Needless to say, I was most disheartened.

  5. Alan Stevenson 25 Jan 2009 at 9:37 am

    The Economic Situation

    We face a financial meltdown like no other. Keynsian economists are in retreat from followers of Schulz. Global gearing is going towards a sixteen to one ratio, a factor not seen since the dark days of the Dorcan episode in the former USSR. It may be that the Russian bear is providing food for the Wall Street Bull, as it were. One thing is crystal clear – unless the vibrant production-possibility frontier can be patched up at minimal opportunity cost, we may see the real cost of output foregone. Pareto and Schumacher must be turning in their graves.

  6. Robert Ballantyneon 25 Jan 2009 at 10:10 am

    The desire to participate in electronic social media arises from feelings of inadequacy about having to make friends by old-fashioned face-to-face networking. Our community has always celebrated those members of our community who are economically successful, often with little regard for how that success was achieved. Indeed, rogues are often seen as heros. In ancient Rome a successful gladiator may have been a lowly slave, but was considered famous, and even sexually desirable after surviving some spectacularly bloody encounters. In more modern time we see hoods trumpeted in fiction and some sports stars and actors are loved for their charm and misdeeds β€” even when they flaunt the rules. To achieve community acceptance seemed to require charm, wherewithal, and some real gloss of success, either legitimate or illegitimate. The truth is that most people are lacking in some or all of these elements. And as individuals, each feels this inadequacy, and probably deeply. How, then, does someone who is sitting alone at home, feeling as if celebrity-status belongs to others, build a network of followers and eventually friends? In recent months, this has become possible. Buy a computer (almost everyone has one now), use the Internet (almost everyone in Canada has access), and begin to blog, comment on blogs, twitter, build a facebook or myspace site, use linkedin, justin-tv, and the host of other network sites. It is easy to join the party. People can quickly find like-minded others who then have the potential to become friends. Today anyone can become famous, using their own unique talents, and begin it in the privacy of their own room. This is now done, worldwide, daily.

  7. Raul Pachecoon 25 Jan 2009 at 10:26 am

    I know this is going to make me sound OH SO INCREDIBLY VAIN AND SELF ABSORBED but I’ll have to agree with a previous commenter. I am kind of an expert at just about everything.

    No, not really. I actually wrote a post about that recently (about how some people are experts at sounding experts). Did you have a chance to check it out?

    I’ll be back when I have a moment to actually write a paragraph that makes me sound as an expert on something I’m not.

  8. Robert Ballantyneon 25 Jan 2009 at 10:39 am

    Have you lost money, a job, or are worried about your property values during this economic downturn? This means that you are among the losers. For people like me, this is good news. When you lose people like me are winning. Money always goes somewhere and some of us know how to be there first and to help ourselves. Think about it. When your stocks have plummeted and you sell and take a huge loss, someone is buying your stock at a bargain basement price. Someone like me. It is possible to make lots of money in terrible economic times, and it is possible to reap even more as things improve. I’ve made millions and I don’t even work hard. That stuff they teach you in school about the rewards of hard work is for the suckers. Look around at the rich people in your community. Are they really smarter than you? Did they become rich by hard work? You know they didn’t. I know how they did it. And I’m willing to share it all with you. Why? Well I will enjoy the measly $73.99 you will send me for my book, and frankly, there are more than enough losers to go around. Visit http:// endbeingaloser.com now and stop being a loser.

    {Thanks… this has been fun. Now I have to get back to some hard work. :) }

  9. Maurice Cardinalon 25 Jan 2009 at 11:38 am

    Loneliness is the heaviest weight in deep space. After months of hurtling away from earth at the speed of thought I feel infinitesimally smaller with each breath. Wherever I look, in every direction I see nothing except cold black timelessness and a tiny blue flickering dot receding slowly against the backdrop of an expanding universe, or maybe it’s shrinking. I’m not sure. Occasionally my pod plunges through dense radioisotopic fog, and each time it happens it is unnerving because I can’t tell if the moisture on my windshield is real or imagined. It’s only when I flip on the wipers I realize I am not peering out a porthole at all, but instead lost in a dream and the droplets are condensation from my breath as my forehead presses against the screen. Still, as the wiper blades scrape back and forth and the bugs smear across the thick glass shield, I push frantically at the washer fluid button refusing to accept my blue fluid container is empty and I am truly lost and alone in deep recursive thought. Then, all of a sudden, I run straight into the back of a fucking bus.

  10. Annaon 25 Jan 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Most farmers say they’ve done this- only because its dirty job, and also an unforgettable privilege– but I’ve helped over 500 cows give birth – in the shelter of a barn, on a warm Sunday morning, out in the fields during a lightning storm, and once – during a wild horse stampede, which nearly took down the barn, spooked poor Betsy and had me chasing her down a strip of field holding my clamps, and a bucket of water until she finally passed out. Which brings me to the most important aspect of proper birthing – a peaceful environment. When cows are ready to birth, they walk in slow circles, stomping their feet and letting out low, deep, and painful groans, finally attracting a crowd of cows– a ritual rooted deep in their evolutionary genetics. The circle creates a safe birthing environment, protects the mother from predators like wolves (or out-of-control tractors, hehehe). Building rapport with the cows, overtime will allow the farmer to enter the ‘birthing circle’ safely, and perform the birth. Cows are stubborn, simple, but delicate creatures, and the female is much like our own breed – she needs to feel protected, supported, loved – and during a birth a farmer needs to instantly calm and placate her – this is done by looking the cow in the eyes, cooing and gently massaging the area near her back hooves. Do everything you can to soothe her short of lighting an aromatherapy candle. Never do this- it will spook the cow!!! When she releases a loud groan, and gets a ‘crazy’ look in her eyes, she’s ready! The moment has arrived. Position yourself in between the legs, away from hooves – so you don’t get kicked in the forehead. Remember to remove watches, rings, cuff links, your long sleeve shirt. Find the birth canal- ad have confidence! Get a firm hold of the calf legs and pull. Find the prize and pull it out of the cereal box. Do not YANK – pull smoothly with all your might – like on a rope during tug of war. A strong, gentle pull, rather than yanks and jerks, is the most effective way for a quick and simple birth. Take it from someone who’s been a cow dula for over 500 births!

  11. raincoasteron 26 Jan 2009 at 9:09 am

    Um, dude, I studied English Literature, Sociology, and Comparative Folklore at University. What do you think I did every day for THREE LONG YEARS? Can’t I get an honorary win, or a pass credit or something for time served?

  12. Ducky Sherwoodon 26 Jan 2009 at 11:55 am

    While I will not say that I know something about everything, I will say that it is very difficult to think of things I don’t know about because the things that pop into my head are, well, things I know about!

  13. jnarveyon 26 Jan 2009 at 1:17 pm

    And the winner is…

    Anna, for “how to help cows give birth”. I found this advice, “position yourself in between the legs, away from hooves – so you don’t get kicked in the forehead,” helpful for a wide range of situations.

    Ruth Seeley wins silver, for “chicken sex and egg creation”, tied with Maurice Cardinal for “hurtling away from earth”.

    The bronze medal winners are a three-way tie between Tanya for “fish farming”, Robert Ballantyne for “how to make money the easy way” and Monica Hamburg for “wine connoisseur”.

    Honorable mention goes to Alan Stevens for “the economic situation”

    For those curious about the winner selection process, we assure you that the process was based on highly specific critieria as well as completely random algorithms. Thanks for playing!

  14. Russellon 26 Jan 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Ooooooh! Such a cynic!

  15. Ruth Seeleyon 26 Jan 2009 at 4:20 pm

    See, I like contests like this where everyone wins something.

    What did I win again? πŸ˜‰

  16. jnarveyon 26 Jan 2009 at 4:27 pm

    The enduring thanks of a grateful swathe of humanity for making their lives that much more livable?

    And my respect. Although, you’d already earned that long ago.

  17. Maurice Cardinalon 29 Jan 2009 at 8:27 pm

    moooooooooooooooooo …

  18. Earnest Canuckon 30 Jan 2009 at 1:35 am

    What, it’s over?? Damn, Jon, I been cogitating on this for days. I will just excerpt a few lines from the epic of faux-expertise I was *gonna* post…

    “A lot of laymen don’t understand that a good tattooist has to master blood-typology AND laser-programming AND three years of dermatology. Plus, we take an oath.”

    “When you see a sterotypical windsurfer in a Hollywood movie, they never mention our advanced calculus skills. Instead it’s all just, ‘Oh, there’s some wind! Now I’m surfing!'”

    “Excuse me, have YOU got a Ph.d in Women’s Studies from Concordia? Have you researched the pre-historical matriarchies? I didn’t think so. Just because you have a vagina doesn’t mean you know anything about feminism.”

    “Yes. Yes, I am the Dagu Whisperer.”

    “If there’s one thing I know, it’s human nature.”

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