Portrait of a Pathologically Closed-minded Person
Although I have specific individuals in mind as I write this, I’d rather keep this impersonal, since it’s not for these people, but the general pattern. The latter is far worse than any single individual manifesting it, as it’s immortal and spreading rapidly, thanks to some people who benefit from it, directly or indirectly.
This closed-minded person (let’s call him Zaphod and don’t worry if you don’t catch the reference!) is really interested in stuff. As long as any information he comes across doesn’t threaten his convictions and beliefs, he’s more than happy to accept it. He’s even glad to quote others and admire their superiority, so long they are also part of his belief system, even if he doesn’t fully understand them.
After all, Zaphod isn’t all that bright. He’s still smart enough to be a functional member of society, perhaps a software engineer or even a more traditional kind of engineer, but you wouldn’t find him in anything remotely related to research. Yeah, this kind of work is too much for him, plus it means that he’d have to form hypotheses and then try to disprove them, forget about it! It’s so much easier and cozier to rely on credible sources (at least on what he considers to be credible) and experts. Of course, the latter may change over the years, like the players in an NBA team, but that’s immaterial. As long as there is an expert out there, preferably one with some prestigious title, Zaphod is content. He may be wrong, but if enough people believe him to be right, then does it really matter?
For people like Zaphod, the expert is like a Messiah figure, though without all the religious connotations. No, Zaphod is too “evolved” for that stuff, especially today when every religion is equally valid and talking about religion or God is offensive to someone, somewhere, somehow. And Zaphod doesn’t want to offend anyone, ever, unless that person doesn’t respect his favorite expert. In that case, all hell may break loose, since going against the expert is blasphemy (Zaphod isn’t sure what this word really means but he knows it’s bad and appropriate).
Don’t ever bother to give Zaphod any evidence contrary to what he believes. Although that doesn’t classify as blasphemous, it’s still an insult of sorts. How dare you defy the science (or whatever he calls his dogma)? Surely you are trying to manipulate Zaphod with all this data-driven trickery! If you were a true believer of science (or more accurately, scientism), you’d not question the Theory! Of course, the fact that many scientists themselves question the theories of their field, as they try to improve our understanding of the world, doesn’t matter. They are the chosen ones and have the divine right to do so. As for us mortals, we should just bow to them, instead of drawing our own conclusions. Fortunately, Zaphod doesn’t know much about analytics (he still lives in the good old days when Statistics was king), nor does he believe in what plots and A/B tests say unless they are given to him by the experts. Those latter saints of sorts help him make sense of that and leave all the number-crunching to their assistants, who slave to become the next generation of experts, once they prove their faith in the Theory.
For Zaphod, ignorance isn’t just bliss, but a lifestyle. So, if you want to shake things up and therefore threaten his fragile fiction with facts, Zaphod will never forgive you. The function and the form are irrelevant concepts for him since for him it’s just faith, faith in the facetious frivolity of phenomena and photos, particularly if the latter are shown on TV. How can you ever deny the veracity of such a thing, relying on those pesky numbers and facts? So, best to leave Zaphod alone in his palace of complacency and do something useful. He’s beyond saving at this point.
I usually don’t have such a cynical approach to things, but I’m always up to try something different, be it in poetry or prose. After all, I can’t be making educational videos all the time, on Data Science, A.I., and Cybersecurity. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from all that. If you, however, wish to delve into any one of these fields, feel free to check out my blog www.foxydatascience.com/">www.foxydatascience.com, where I talk about these matters, in short, and hopefully insightful articles. Cheers!
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