The Know-It-All's Code

How any jerk can feel like a genius in just 21 simple steps

Posted Nov 10, 2015

  1. Embrace any simple surefire formula that makes you think you can easily solve the world’s woes: It doesn’t matter what it is just so long as its simple, surefire and would convince a drunk.
  2. Ignore all evidence that the formula might not work: Dismiss, reject, disqualify any indication that it might not be as surefire as you’d like to think.
  3. Assume that, having embraced the formula in the abstract, you embody it completely: Now that you talk the formula assume that you a walking example of the formula put into practice. Ignore all evidence that you’re a hypocrite, great at the talk; lousy at the walk.
  4. Crusade for your formula as though you’re on an urgent God-given mission to save the world from itself: This is where trolling really pays off, making you feel absolutely grand about yourself, sidestepping the inconvenient work of getting great by simply assuming you are.
  5. Imitate the sneer of the self-satisfied demagogue: Collect sneer role models and learn their repertoire. It’s not big; it’s not hard. Chances are, you learned your cherished formula from a demagogue. Indeed you were probably sold on the formula not based on its content but because its gives you a license to sneer.
  6. Develop a repertoire of clever sounding ways to say, “I know you are but what am I?”: This is not hard if you listen to the demagogues. They know the repertoire and again it’s easy to learn. Remember, rhetoric counts not reality. If you win the debate by whatever means, you’re obviously right about reality, which you can feel free to ignore.
  7. Condemn every belief that conflicts with yours, as though you are the supreme judge: Now that you have the formula, you are infallible and free to drop any reference to your opinion being an opinion. From now on you can say, “That’s idiotic” instead of “I think that’s idiotic.” After all, you are the neutral judge of what’s idiotic.
  8. Play logic police: Pick up and misunderstand a smattering of logic, in particular the fallacies, and ticket anyone who disagrees with you giving them a citation for having committed the fallacy. Double benefit: It puts them down and confirms (to you) that you’re an expert on logic.
  9. Play moral police: Declare, “that’s immoral” to anyone who disagrees with you. Collect a lot of supposed moral absolutes and then apply them selectively, pulling out whichever one shames your opponent. If they get frustrated or angry make that a moral issue too, as though level-headed people like you never do something as immoral as getting angry or frustrated.
  10. Count all responses negative or otherwise as evidence that you are right after all: It’s so easy bratty kids do it all the time. Just remember how to turn your opposition’s frown upside down. One simple way is whatever they say against you, respond with “lol, keep it coming, I love it.”
  11. Provoke: Say any bold brash thing that compels others to talk to you. Getting attention is the key now that you have found a way to convert all attention however critical into evidence that you must be right about everything.
  12. Attack the character of those who disagree with you: They’re not just in disagreement with you, or just wrong, they’re weak, stupid, egotistical, self-certain, all the things you aren’t.
  13. Feign hurt, disgust or disappointment when people attack back: Even though you don’t take the high road in debate, claim the high ground by shaming them for fighting unfairly. Remember, you’re thin skinned, but call it being high minded and you never have to admit it.
  14. Feign dialogue: You don’t really want dialogue, but you do want them to think you do. That way, you can keep them engaged.
  15. Ask your opposition questions but ignore their answers: To make it seem like dialogue ask questions. Don’t listen to their answers.
  16. Change the subject constantly: Like questions this keeps your opposition coming back. Be the moles in Wackamole. Duck any direct hits but don’t worry about getting hit, because again, you’ve got a formula for convincing yourself that every direct hit is evidence that you’re right. Jerk your opposition around by the nose. It hurts them which must mean you're winning.
  17. Pile reading assignments on your opposition: Load them up with whatever limited reading you’ve done as though they aren’t qualified to say anything until they’ve read everything you’ve read. If they counter with reading for you, ignore it. You already know everything you need to know.
  18. Always shift the burden of proof to them: Make them defend their position. That will consume their time and keep them coming back. Simply ignore any burden of proof they impose on you. Just keep turning the tables back to your challenges to them, your reading list and your questions. Remember they’re on the witness stand, not you. You’re alternating between playing lawyer for the side of the good and righteous and the supreme judge of what’s good and righteous, whichever suits you in the moment.
  19. Wear them out with formulaic responses: You win if they stay engaged; you win if they disengage. You win always, so feel free to just use up the opposition. You can always find more elsewhere to feed your appetite for evidence that you’re right.
  20. When they block you, claim suppression: Pretend that a debate is simply an exercise of freedom of speech, which you can self-servingly interpret as freedom to be heard and listened to. If they stop listening to your or block your communication, that’s all the evidence you need to associate yourself with the greatest minds in world history, burdened with suffering fools, the mediocre minds that don’t know that freedom of speech means they have to listen to you.
  21. When they disengage, claim victory: If they abandoned the debate, that obviously means they were too weak-minded to engage in a fair-minded forum, or that they finally realized you were right after all and so retreated with their tail between their legs. Either, and any way you slice it, you won.

Now, on to other victories!!