I read an interesting blog post by Jason Cohen of Smart Bear, “Do I dare call bullshit” and my comment was so long and my week is so filled, I thought I would just go ahead and repeat the comment here as my blog for today.
I certainly post things that piss people off from time to time. Since my blog is primarily on statistics, software and snarky comments, it is amazing to me that people occasionally feel upset enough to call me names, tell me I’ll be unemployed for life (this week, I’m so busy that sounds lovely but I’m sure after a while it would get depressing) and be insulting enough to upset my daughters on the rare times they might read it.
If I think your application sucks, I will say so. I am sure that there are contracts I have not gotten, job offers that I have not received because someone checked my blog and was appalled at the fact that I occasionally run statistics to check absurd allegations, say, about anchor babies – (we Latinos prefer to call it the miracle of life). It’s not calling a spade a spade that loses you business. It’s calling bullshit bullshit.
I have deliberately not moderated my tone because I think it best if you are looking for someone who toes the party line, who never voices a controversial opinion and who will try to spin what the data show that we not work together because we’ll both end up unhappy.
I’m a good writer, a good programmer, a good statistician. I’ve presented at more conferences than I can count and obtained millions in grant funding. HOWEVER, I’m allergic to mornings, I hate cold weather and this afternoon I am sharing my office with a guinea pig named Ali, in addition to my office frogs, Type I and Type II.
I’m probably (okay. definitely) not going to work 9-5 for long periods of time, wear a suit every day or pretend that a piece of software that only works on the exact configuration used by the manufacturer is NOT a stupid idea.
I’m not so naive to know that blogs have morphed from personal journals on the web to marketing tools. However, I still write mine to remind me of things I want to remember – or just for the hell of it. Often when I’m working with a client, I’ll point him or her to a link on logistic regression or cluster analysis or installing SAS on Unix or whatever. Yes, my discussion of Wilcoxon and normality includes a naked mole rat, but there is a reason for that. Many of the people I work with are really, really smart in their own disciplines but are somewhat intimidated by statistics. It’s hard to be intimidated by an animal that looks very much like a penis with teeth.
All of that said, I DO censor myself where it would hurt someone, even their feelings, unnecessarily. If I read an article that makes a mistake that is common or is just terribly written, I’m not going to call out that person just because their article was the one I randomly read. There are tons of articles out there that make mistakes or are terribly written. I don’t mock people’s names, personal appearance, race, gender or even their mistakes because that is just mean. When I was younger, I would do things like that and my friends and I all thought we were very clever. Then I became mature enough to learn the difference between trying to be clever and acting like an ass.
And I don’t bother writing back to email from morons, because if you truly are a moron, an email from me is not going to change you.
So, yeah, all in all, I think calling bullshit can be a good thing if the result is people who want to work with you really want to work with YOU and not some image you’ve cultivated.