disagreeing with those who know more than you

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I do it every chance I get. Just as I disagree with those who know less than me, every chance I get. In the real world I do it less, as it returns less than desireable results sometimes. The old crusty "I've been doing this for 40 years" electrician doesn't like to be told that he's wrong by a little whipper-snapper like me; so I keep my mouth shut because there's more I want to learn from this guy and if I **** him off he is going to clam up. I'll get the old "Well if you know so much, then why don't you just figure it out yourself?". On this forum though I don't hold back (usually); I figure everybody here is capable of entertaining discussion for discussion's sake and won't hold it against me (as long as I'm not persistent about it). We have well established experts here and I'm more careful (diplomatic) when contradicting them for the same reason I am with the crusty electrician in real life.
    So, Am I damaging myself? Should I just keep my trap shut if I see one of our experts say something I don't agree with? After all, if I speak up and I am wrong, then I learn something out of it. If I speak up and I'm right, then everybody learns something. It's a win-win the way I see it. If I just stay quiet then potentially bad information is released and probably re-taught down the line. I just don't want any grudges held against me next time I have a question because someone feels that I "called them out" before or "tried to make them look stupid"
     
  2. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    I think disagreeing and debating is a good and healthy thing. The important ingredient is that the disagreement should be based on a logical argument at every step, and those points should be put forth in a clear and constructive way. This then allows the other person to have something to either refute or accept. The end result is a conversation that enlightens both sides.

    If you can't make a logical argument, then that is the time to not disagree, but simply to state that you don't understand and ask more questions that force the other person to make the important points to enlighten you.
     
  3. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Agreed. Sometimes you look a little silly, but if you don't understand something, ASK! The main thing is to keep it civil, it is possible to disagree and not make it personal.

    You will find several people giving apparently different explanations, but when you look closer they are saying the same things. Many cases one explanation, while not more correct than the others, will be more understandable by you.
     
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  4. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    Hmmm, it's ironic that we are all agreeing here. :p

    Are there any disagreeable people that can join in? Oh, but there is the rub. If you disagree, your actions will say that you are disagreeing, and hence you agree about disagreeing. Nice Catch 22 you created here strantor. :D
     
  5. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

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    This thread should be locked before anyone can hurt themselves thinking about it.
     
  6. t06afre

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  7. Zazoo

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    Jul 27, 2011
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    I would agree that it depends entirely on the person and the context.

    In the university setting where I am now I expect a little more understanding and receptiveness from the faculty. That said, even here I've learned to tread carefully. There are some professors who are completely open to being contradicted, and there are some who will make it there semester's goal to make your life a living hell if you disagree with anything they say.

    The same applies to the workplace (although in the service I learned to just to shut-up and not argue or disagree with anyone above my paygrade, regardless of their knoweldge or lack thereof.)

    I've always approached most of these situations as steveb and Bill suggested - by expressing my disagreement as a question or lack of understanding on my part. Even if I think I'm absolutely right it's usually the most tactful way to deal with the situation - especially if the person doesn't respond well to being challeneged. By approaching it this way one of three things happen:
    1.) While elaborating on the topic the person discovers the mistake on their own, and they save some face.
    2.) You realize you were the one who was wrong, and learn something while saving face.
    3.) You still disagree, a which point you can be a little more assertive (e.g. "but isn't 'x' the case, and not 'y', or am I mistaken?")

    Of course I like to avoid conflict. Some people actively seek it out.
     
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  8. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    I woudn't disagree in university, tried it once and got about 10% for a lab. I don't remember it exactly but the equipment we were using had a accuracy of about +-50% of what we were trying to measure, so it would have taken a great deal of imagination to plot a graph from it. Of course we knew what the expected results should look like so most of the students drew a line. I concluded that the experiment couldn't prove or disprove the theory.
     
  9. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I had a chemistry teacher that delighted in humiliating anyone that disagree with him. When he said that electrons don't have mass, I did not tell him the equasion for deflection in a CRT. I've seen people on similar forums that want to argue ad infinitum about whether Ohm made up Ohm's Law and whether E=IR is wrong and V=IR is correct. I don't bother to engage in that. It is pointless. Some people are ignorant, others are jerks. Some people deserve an answer, some don't.

    In addition, there are often several ways to make a circuit that does the job. Believing you have the only right answer is usually wrong. The best you can do is be open to getting schooled. The worst is to come across like a jerk. I especially like post #3. Several people using different words, saying the same thing, until the noobie finds one that works for him. When it works, that's how it works.
     
  10. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

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    I'm no psychology major, but I would venture a guess that the ones who don't mind being contradicted are the ones who are more confident in their own understanding (and more likely to be right). The ones who get combative are probably trying to suppress anything that might come out and make them look bad, because they aren't confident that they're right. or they just have big egoes. I'm not sure

    echo.
    I couldn't stand taking orders from idiots at first; then I learned to not care. It's hard to make yourself do something unnecessarily or do something the wrong way "just because someone else said so", if you really care about whatever it is you're doing. solution: don't care; be the fleshbot that you are paid to be.

    On matters of opinion (i.e. politics, religion, etc.) I tend to actively seek out "passionate debate"; since that isn't allowed here, AAC has probably prevented me burning any bridges here. On matters of fact, I am always open, always listening, considering. I am not very smart though. I have had people try to drill understanding into me and I know they must get frustrated.
     
  11. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    About the nasty chemistry teacher and his why: He was desperately afraid that his job was at risk. He was old and had stopped learning a long time ago. He was trying to last until retirement. He thought he was the big fish in the little (junior college) pond, and the young guns were always waiting for the chance to work for less money than he made.

    I don't know quite how it worked there, whether it was best for a teacher to have most of his students earn high marks or if it was best to wash out as many as he could before the "drop period" was over by making chemistry look difficult. I quickly realized that if I did chemistry, my best hopes were in a large corporation, and I don't like that kind of work, so I learned some chemistry and moved on to explore the next subject. (I'd tell you that it turned out to be electronics, but I'm afraid several would laugh at me.) I never engaged with the big jerk, and still didn't get the grade I thought I deserved. That made me wonder about why giving his students poorer marks than they deserved would be good for his job security.

    Just to fill you in, I read every chemistry book in the high school library. I did model rocketry when we made our own propellants. I got an "A" in high school chemistry while sleeping in class. Then I go to junior college, take the first chemistry course, pay attention, do all the work, get almost all "A's" on the weekly tests, and get a "C" for the final grade? Well, I couldn't afford hard C's and stay on the honor roll, so I removed myself from that field of study. Does that mean he won? I don't know.
     
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