People have always had this nasty habit of giving examples to prove points.
“Oh, you think I am kidding? Here’s an example of me giving an example to prove that people give examples.”
Now the problem with examples is that they are tricky things. Most of the time people would listen to an example, smile smugly, and say, “Pfft! So you think an oasis proves that a desert is a lush green forest?” On the other hand, some people in Scotland will tell you that all monsters are real because, of course, the Loch Ness Monster EXISTS!
It is pretty hard to deem an example good or bad, but there are some that are just plain wrong and even Kapil Sibal should have given them a thought before he decided to ban free speech itself.
#4 “It’s alright! Even <insert super-rich entrepreneur> dropped out of college”
You must all be familiar with this scene. It’s a college seminar hall. The speaker is an arrogant guy who takes the ‘favoring-girls-and-ridiculing-boys-makes-your-seminar-more-interesting’ system too seriously. The seminar is on the death-like boring topic of entrepreneurship. No, wait, death is way more interesting. The only people interested are the social activists in the first row nodding their heads like a drinking bird mechanism.
But suddenly, in the middle of this uninteresting and somewhat insulting presentation, there comes a slide which makes even the last row ogle. The slide always shows Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Richard Branson/Larry Ellison, always giving their trademark smiles, and always reads something to the tune of – ‘The Billionaire who dropped out of college’.
These slides are insanely popular. In fact they have transcended the traditional power-point presentations and have descended on social media encouraging all the budding failures at engineering colleges into believing that Bill Gates loves and understands them all.
But, this example in particular, needs to be stopped because I have hardly seen it being taken in the positive sense at all. People need to get in their heads that Bill Gates dropped out of HARVARD, with an IDEA that put all the other geniuses around him to shame and with an INSANE WORK ETHIC. So, if you are dropping out of Bumfuck Institute of Technology because you couldn’t generate ideas enough to pass, and your work-ethic includes boozing, you are approximately as close to Bill Gates as Alpha Centauri is to Earth.
#3 “I read a lot of books.” -> “Oh, which ones?” -> “Um… Harry Potter…”
Disclaimer: This one is NOT for douchebags.
Not to be too hard on the Potter fans, all those morons who argue that they are total bibliophiles because they read ‘one’ of the following – Twilight, Percy Jackson, Bartimaeus, Artemis Fowl, etc. – fall into the same category.
Why, you ask? Well, because having read the Harry Potter series is not proof that you read books at all. That’s like saying you can cook because you know how to boil water. The series was everywhere, translated into more languages than you know and read by virtually every age group on Earth. It was less of a book and more of a phenomenon. Saying that you read Harry Potter doesn’t serve as proof for anything at all, except maybe, that in the entire period between 1997 and 2007, you were alive, not living under a rock, and not caught in an African civil war.
Still don’t believe me? Well, that’s why you should read the disclaimer.
#2 “I am a great engineer. Now let me prove Troll Scientist Wrong.”
Disclaimer: This one is FOR douchebags
I personally don’t feel like elaborating on this one. Virtually everyone knows and hates the person I am talking about. But in the benefit of all those who feel their scientific awesomeness is being persecuted and can’t understand why, here’s the reason:
Troll Scientist is just that. TROLL. When he shows someone levitating over a floor full of magnets by wearing a suit made of repelling magnets, you are NOT expected to comment on the non-aerodynamic nature of the human body and explain how the drag and gravity forces overcome the magnetic forces. You are also not expected to lecture everybody about escape velocities when Troll Scientist suggests the construction of a huge slide to launch oneself into space.
There are certain subtle differences between Facebook and a conference of particle physicists in Richard Feynman’s backyard. Facebook is also used by average Joes, Commerce and Arts students, and housewives who still watch daily soaps for entertainment. When they see your glorified scientific disapproval of their daily dose of humor, they are bound to hate you.
P.S. – It DOES NOT make you look any smarter than you already are (which isn’t a lot, trust me).
#1 “Hey, <insert random epic fail of pop-culture> is AWESOME! Look at all those fans!”
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we shall raze all arguments that people who secretly support Justin Beiber make to prove that there has got be SOME talent in the guy (Still not too sure about the ‘guy’ part, though). These people argue, that if the number of hits on YouTube videos and the record sales for Baby have anything to say, there must be a LOT of people totally into Justin Beiber’s music, and since there are a lot of people diggin’ that shit, da shit’s gotta be rad!
But the truth, friends and neighbors, is that ‘the popularity argument’, as the above paragraph is popularly known is worth exactly diddlysquat when it comes to measuring talent. Here’s why: Quick, how many of you wanted to watch The Hangover 2? How about the golden-globe winning, Academy Award nominated Hugo? Or maybe The Descendants? I can assure you the difference between those two answers cannot be calculated on your fingers.
The fact of the matter is, that we, the masses, hardly know what it takes to make a REALLY, REALLY good movie. Most of the time we satisfy ourselves with Optimus Prime ripping Megatron’s mouth open, Bradley Cooper’s incisors and Robert Pattinson’s paleness. And while there’s nothing wrong in that by itself, it is totally wrong if you use the same logic to compare the skills of Christian Bale and Daniel Radcliffe. Popularity simply doesn’t measure talent.
The same thing applies to all other categories. Music, for example. What comes to mind when I say the 70s? Led Zeppelin? Pink Floyd? Deep Purple? Well, these are the bands whose talents got recognized over decades. In the 70s, the most popular song was Sugar, Sugar by The Archies. Now try listening to that without upsetting your digestive system.
I wrote this article in 2012, mostly because I was frustrated with humanity, but also because I wanted to have it published on this awesome magazine, Let The Good Times Roll (among other things, being published on an online magazine is an easy route to a glowing CV point). Re-posting it here because my blog would be totally incomplete without it. Pardon the stale pop culture references, they were totally hipster then.