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Jarrod Roberson
Jarrod Roberson

Posted on • Updated on

If someone writes a technical article and says you are doing it wrong ...

before posting an angry post full of logical fallacies about how they are wrong, stop and seriously consider that they are might be right

The truth hurts!

The amount of insult you are feeling is inversely proportionally to how much you know that you they are probably correct, at least more correct than wrong. You might not even know why they are correct, but you know it hit a nerve and you are angry.

Experience taught me this!

I originally went to study art after high school, commercial art to be specific. Apple introduced the laser writer the end of my freshman year, and I saw the writing on the wall. Let the #ageism comments begin.

The hardest part of commercial art, mechanicals, had just been completely commoditized and I added a video production/animation major as insurance. Which was a good idea, I was right about commercial art salaries cratering, video took another couple decades.

But, how did I end up writing software professionally for almost 40 years.

I wrote my own 3D animation modeling and rendering and machine control automation software as a means to an ends. Long story short, I realized I like working with machines more than people.

Why is all this relevant?

Well the first thing they teach you in art school is how to give and take criticism. Both constructive and non-constructive. It is crucial to your growth as an artist and growing your career.

Everyone has an opinion about art, and you have to learn to consider all of them. So you can separate the constructive from the non-constructive.

Even the ones that insult you the most, especially those. Understanding why they insult you the most is very important to your growth as a person if nothing else.

More importantly you have to learn how to give constructive criticism.

Anyone can yell "you are wrong" to the void.

The those with experience can tell someone they need to change and back it up with logic and reason without resorting to Begging the Claim and other logical fallacies or ad hominem attacks.

The four types of criticism.

There are four types of criticism and you need to learn how to tell the difference between them. Because, only two of the types are worth your time considering.

There is positive and negative criticism, and there is constructive and non-constructive. Thus you can have four distinct types.

Which types do you consider and which do you ignore?

Constructive criticism should always be considered, both positive and negative. Non-constructive criticism, which is the majority of what you will get from random anonymous internet is easy to disregard, but can be hard to ignore. Especially about things that are empirical and not just opinion based.

How do you tell the difference.

Constructive criticism does not just tell you that it agrees or disagrees with you, but why and gives an alternatives to whatever is being criticized in a measured informed manner that sticks to the topic and is not littered with logical fallacies.

That is the big differentiating factor.

If someone agrees or disagrees with you and their reasoning is based on one or more logical fallacies then you should realize very quickly it is a waste of your time and ignore it and move on.

But with publishing on the internet, it gets really hard to just ignore misinformation, especially misinformation that can make your peers make mistakes and by extension make your life harder and your chosen career worse.

I think we all have a responsibility to correct or at least call out misinformation that makes the internet worse.

Critical thinking, Debate, and formal Logic is no longer taught to the general public.

Public schools used to have debate clubs. Teachers used to teach how to learn, how to think about things objectively and logically and identify logical fallacies. Not only in others debates or reasoning but in your own.

I think that is why the Dunning/Kruger Effect seems to be on the rise.

It was always there, but putting a name on it and how to identify it formally makes you more cognizant of it.

Now they just teach how to take and pass tests. DotCom bubble certification farms proved that is worse than worthless to our industry.

I did my own research!

The massive audience and scope of the internet has made a lot of the problems with people that do not have these skills much worse.

The populist idea that everyone has an equal weight opinions about subjects that require formal study, that are extremely complex, nuanced and years if not decades of experience in them to understand them, much less master them is a huge problem.

So, this is a criticism of criticism, which kind is it?

If you made it this far, then I hope I made it Constructive, if your receive it as positive or negative, is probably up to confirmation bias more than anything else. So this is my attempt at a solution ...

Before you leave a comment ...

Re-read this entire article for comprehension, they write your comment, but before you publish it. Delete it. Then re-read this entire article again, write your comment. Delete it. Re-read this ...

You get the idea, when and if your comment becomes constructive, publish it. If it isn't constructive and just a salad of logical fallacies with populist dressing, you are not making the internet (and the world) a better place.

Top comments (29)

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines • Edited on

Hello Jarrod, as always hard hitting writing. I expect nothing less. It does suck when people leave comments without reading thoroughly. And it leads to me getting bombarded with multiple people agreeing with them and claiming I’m wrong when a simple read could have prevented the whole thing.

Also it doesn’t help that I’m usually going against the majority but hey someone has to do it.

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thexdev profile image
M. Akbar Nugroho • Edited on

The only problem of your article is the title. It's clickbait. Why you don't put something like "Managing ENV vars for large-scale project". DEV is huge community for any level of devs and we expect good shout out for good article. It's easier to point what you mean without argueing people and losing the article context itself.

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines

Good point! I’ll make better title in the future, it is unfortunate that the article was taking in the wrong way.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Have you tried to ask naive questions?

"Hello. Have you read my article? What would you say my point was?"

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines

It has a mid success rate of around 40%. It usually ends with with an insult or them doubling down on an opinion from something they didnt read.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Ah ah.
Actually I consider that to be a 100% success.
The 40% that were courageous enough to realize they did a mistake and admit it are probably fine people, the kind of people that could grow to become good readers.
And the other 60% have embarassed themselves as far as I'm concerned and more importantly they are less likely to come back after that.
Polarizing is a win win.

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines

You know what Jean, I'm in that 40%. This is a great way at looking at it, I will take this mindset going forward.

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines

Off topic, but I remember you and went to go check your Github link from your portfolio. The extra "h" is still there hhttps://github.com/jmfayard/.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

I didn't forget!
My website was auto generated from DEV.to and stackbit but I found out this connection doesn't work anymore so I need to generate it another way

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author • Edited on

That is just passive aggressive; stuff like that is just plausible deniability sugar coated snark or rudeness or nastiness.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

Well I see it as a tactic I employ sparingly to test out whether the reader is making an honest mistake or just isn't interested in anything I have to say. It's not that I love it, but I found it better than to feel upset and angry. The internet is tough sometimes. Do you know of a better tactic to deal with this issue?

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author

I am #actuallyautistic and found after a lifetime trying present info in an NT friendly manner, just saying what needs to be said in as neutral and factual manner as possible is the best way. No amount of sugar coating is going to win over someone when facts are not enough. So why waste the effort.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Thanks for your answer, I will think about it.
My immediate answer is that I am really trying to do is to evaluate is whether the commentator cares at all about the facts. If they do I'm happy to have a friendlier discussion.

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author • Edited on

if you have to ask a passive aggressive question like the one you proposed you already know the answer and are just feeding and caring for the trolls.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Is it better if I ask it like this:

It seems that you think that I think xxx. What gives you this impression?

I'm often honestly curious about the answer here.

On the other hand if the dude insist in being a jerk, I have no problem with defending myself and standing my ground.

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wadecodez profile image
Wade Zimmerman • Edited on

Writing well thought out comments takes a lot of effort. From my experience, if someone wants to have a well thought out discussion in the comments they will.

However, most of the time, comments are like verbal conversations. People write without thinking, and do not go back to polish their thoughts or back their claims. People don't have time for this.

The true test of character is when people come back to say more. If someone gets defensive, it's not worth continuing the conversation because they made it personal. At that point, if you are going to say anything, it's best to apologize or agree to disagree.

It takes two to argue and two to have a conversation.

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author

It only takes one to spread misinformation and the entire rest of the world to correct it

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unsungnovelty profile image
Nikhil • Edited on

I have been personally working on reducing this thought process since last year.
A good rule for me to easily remember is to change the default reaction of outside opinions. By proving them right and not wrong. So you try to convince yourself that whatever the other person is trying to share is right. Thereby tackling your own bias which otherwise would be more harder.

This doesn't mean you have to agree with the other person. But you try your level best to agree with the other person. Unlike the usual thought process which the opposite of it. Kind of like a debate within yourself. It has had a positive effect on me. But it is hard to follow consistently.

I have wrote about it here - unsungnovelty.org/posts/09/2021/pr...

PS: I try not to share non-dev related productivity articles in Dev.to. Which is why I am sharing the link to my website's article.

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jmau111 profile image
jmau111⭐

It's a huge problem when people read too fast or only want to shine in the comments, sometimes leading to completely miss what the author is trying to highlight.

I've seen it so many times, and on many platforms. On the one hand, authors are happy to get reactions but, on the other hand, they may also get off-topic comments or even personal attacks.

Although, it's usually not the vast majority of "discussions," which is what DEV is trying to emulate (like the ones you have in meetups).

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines

All too real.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

I did my own research!

That paragraph reminded me of this ferocious quote from Isaac Asimov on what he calls the Cult of Ignorance

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author

my version of this is "your ignorance is not a measure of my competence", never seen this quote, is it verified?

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Victor Hugo once said that nobody cares about the original author of an internet quote as long as the author is famous and the quote sounds interesting.

But I found "A Cult of Ignorance", Newsweek (21 January 1980)) via en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

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jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson Author

very nice find! I was just starting high school in 1981, and that cult was just getting started dismantling the arts in public school at the time. Very topical at that time and this and prescient.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Actually I never care about who is "the original author" of a quote, because everyone copies everyone, but the article is even funnier than the quote and I highly recommand it.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

Very insightful post. I was a bit disappointed when I clicked on your profile to see what else you've posted only to discover this is your first post. Hopefully it is not your last.

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