“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell
O’Toole, Garson. “The Best Lack All Conviction While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity.” Quote Investigator. 4 March 2015, quoteinvestigator.com/2015/03/04/self-doubt. Accessed 9 January 2017.
Why I’m Citing Quote Investigator
I first found this quote in a list of book quotes that were sent around, but even librarians when they are looking for something cool sometimes fall pray to accepting an attribution without checking. The library didn’t have the source I wanted to check and it wasn’t in the ones we did, so I checked with Quote Investigator that is a thoroughly reliable source that does in-depth searching on quotes to find out who said what.
“The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy” -Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Which ironically enough travels around without attribution.
People Who Know Least Tend to Win Arguments
The trouble with knowing a lot about a subject or even similar subjects is that it allows you to see gray areas, shades of meaning, times when things that aren’t generally the rule might in fact happen. That means that in any argument or conversation the people who truly understand the subject will tend to hedge. They will be able to see the nuances and nuances are terrible for convincing people.
The World Isn’t Flat
Unfortunately people who only know one thing or THINK they know one thing will be very sure about that one thing, after all it’s all they know. They can’t admit they’re wrong and they don’t understand enough about it to see the different sides.
Person A: “The world is flat.”
Person B: “Well, it may APPEAR flat due to…..”
Person A: [Snorts] “Of course it’s flat any fool can see that, use your EYES! [To third person who doesn’t know anything about it] You can SEE it looks flat, can’t you?”
Who is going to convince that third person?
Sometimes You’re Wrong
Wrong ideas are often short, simple, easily explained. That makes them easier to win arguments, but you shouldn’t let them convince you.
So make it a practice to believe….or at least seriously consider…6 impossible things before breakfast…to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland. Or to follow Gibbs’s Rule #51 “Sometimes you’re wrong.” I think that’s his most important rule for everyday life. I say it to myself daily, “Sometimes you’re wrong.” You may not win arguments, but you’ll understand things much better.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.