A Few Thoughts on Arrogance

First of all, I have wanted to get back into blogging for a while now, but I also have wanted to change something about the blog. I’m not exactly sure WHAT I want to change, but there is something about it that no longer feels like it is as good a fit for me as it once was. So while there will be a change (or changes) coming, in the meantime I want to get back in the habit of daily writing, and decided that today is as good a day as any to go ahead and do that… Today’s post is actually one I have not yet fully formed in my head before writing (typically I know exactly what I am going to say before I start writing, but not today), so I will apologize in advance if it comes across a tad disjointed or uneven. Perhaps I’ll flesh it out further another day.

For today I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about the line between arrogance and confidence… Myself, I crossed that line long, long ago. But most people would prefer to be seen as confident and see arrogance as a negative trait. But I’m not so sure.

Merriam Webster defines arrogance as:

an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

But let’s think about a few examples and see where it leads us.

Tiger Woods in his prime was by all accounts the greatest golfer on the planet. And he was (at least as portrayed by the media) a very gracious competitor, who at least as far as I am aware was generally seen as a humble guy, considering his talents on the golf course.

Micheal Jordan in his prime was by all accounts the greatest basketball player on the planet. And Jordan was (at least as portrayed by the media) an arrogant son of a bitch who enjoyed getting under the skin of his competitors.

Both were the best (possibly ever) at their chosen profession, and many people (sports writers and fans alike) consider Jordan to have been arrogant, even though he did not exaggerate his abilities or have or give others a false impression of himself.

So clearly, at least for some people, arrogance is not about the validity of what you say, but your attitude in saying it. Those who know me, would attest to the fact that I’m not a fan of the arguments for “tone”. when Phil Plait said “Don’t Be A Dick”, my first thought was “why the fuck not”. So at least to me, if arrogance vs confidence is simply a distinction of tone, I don’t really care which one people see me as. I’ve referred to myself as arrogant countless times, and many others have referred to me as such as well, and frankly, I take it as a compliment. If I am good enough at something to be arrogant about it, then I consider myself to be ahead of the pack.

All of which brings to mind a quote by Tim Minchin I have loved since the moment I heard it:

I think the trouble with being a critical thinker or an atheist, or a humanist is that you’re right. And it’s quite hard being right in the face of people who are wrong without sounding like a fuckwit. People go “do you think the vast majority of the world is wrong”, well yes, i don’t know how to say that nicely, but yes.

What made me think about this subject is that recently (over the past 6 weeks or so I’d say) three different people have said to me separately that I seem “less arrogant lately”. As far as I know, none of these three people have ever met each other, so it’s not like some group of my friends were having a discussion and each brought it up to me from that one discussion. This genuinely seems to be three very separate people all coming to the same conclusion about me, and mistakenly thinking I would take this as a compliment.

I have no doubt at all that I have changed over the last 6 months (fuck, has it really been six months? It seems like just yesterday), but I still view my own opinions as I always have (I’m almost certainly right and it’s up to somebody to prove me wrong before I’ll waiver). Perhaps a bit of the melancholy I’ve felt inwardly the past 6 months has changed my behavior, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty, that I am just as certain of my beliefs as I ever was. And if that makes me arrogant in your opinion, thank you…

About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
This entry was posted in Critical thinking, Psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Few Thoughts on Arrogance

  1. Damn right, Jeff, but fuck you for using the fuck word so god-damn often. Like TM mentions, it’s a free world with my own fucking joy about stating whatever the fuck I want to state. To be a real fuckwit, basically means mixing a modicum of obscene profanity with narrow-minded arrogance and a whole fucking batch of elitist superiority complexes. You fucking went way overboard here, but what else can a god-damned fucktwitt simpleton say? Fuck you suffices surely…. ;^)

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