Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Detector

At some point, if you are fortunate, you will develop the ability to listen to eloquence and detect when the speaker doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

In Russia, there is a distinction between a summer fool and a winter fool. The summer fool runs about with almost no clothes and upon sight, people can quickly conclude, "This is a fool." The winter fool is harder to spot because of the many layers of clothing but, once the layers are stripped away one-by-one, it can be said, "This is a fool."

The ability to spot a winter fool before the many layers are removed can be a major advantage in business and in life. Many of these individuals are rather smooth operators and, although possessing deeply flawed judgment, they usually aren't fools. They are, however, a hazard because their ability to feign wisdom is well-honed. Some of their habits are:
  • Somberly stating opinions as facts.
  • Rewriting history to support their positions.
  • Setting up straw men and then boldly knocking them down.
  • Equating opposition with ignorance.
  • Deftly switching positions and denying that they ever did so.
  • Denouncing any challenges as unfair or mean-spirited.
  • Using vague terms.
  • Opposing "4" but supporting "2 + 2."

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