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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Obstinate Idiocy, Expanded

See Obstinate Idiocy for some background.

Here are three warning signs I was able to deduce.

  • No Rational Justification
  • Ineffective Tool Choice
  • Random Whining

To which I can now add two more.

Symptom 4 of Obstinate Idiocy is that all questions are rhetorical and they often come with pre-argued answers.

Actual email quote:

Me: ">Excel is almost the stupidest choice possible

OI: "What criteria are you using to make that statement?

My criteria was that I needed a way for non-tech people and non-programmers..."

And on the email spins, pre-arguing points and pre-justifying a bad answer. Since their argument is already presented (in mind-numbing detail), there's no effective way to answer the question they asked. Indeed, there's little point in trying to answer, since the pre-argued response is likely to be the final response.

In order to answer, we have to get past the pre-argued response. And this can be difficult because this devolves to "it's political, you don't need the details." So, if it's not technical, why am I involved?

Symptom 5 of Obstinate Idiocy is Learning is Impossible. This may actually be the root cause for Symptom 3, Ineffective Tool Choice. It now seems to me that the tool was chosen to minimize learning. I had suggested using Mathematica. I got this response: " I don't know Python or R or SAS." The answer seems like a non-sequitur because it is. It's justification for a bad decision.

The problem they're trying to solve is gnarly, perhaps it's time to consider learning a better toolset.

Excel has already failed the OI. They asked for an opinion ("Q2: What do you believe are the pros/cons of ... using Excel with "Excel Solver" ...?") that seems to ignore the fact that they already failed trying to use Excel. They already failed, and they followed up by asking for the pros and cons of a tool they already failed with. 

From this limited exchange it appears that they're so unwilling to learn that they can't gather data from their own experience and learn from it.

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