Question Authority

Don’t count on people telling pure facts to you in the heat of discussion. The fact that somebody is a professional, doesn’t mean that he is right, or knows the right way. Professionals might have their own habits and customs which they’ve done for years – and continue doing so without considering new ways of working, thinking or acting. If somebody says “I’m a technical expert, I’ve worked for EA” that doesn’t tell what the guy did at EA.

Here’s something you might use. Whenever you hear somebody saying something like “I’ve done that, it doesn’t work that way” you should remember that it might only be his one time experience. It might have happened in different country, under different circumstances. There’s no guarantee that it will happen to you, or that it would always happen that way.
- “Studies show that…” (You might ask “What studies? Give me a link to article”)
- “The best way is…” (Why is the best way? Is there arguments for it?)
- “The worst thing because he says so” (Who is he? And why should we believe him?)
- “Always” (Always? Are there no exceptions? Ever?)
- “Never” (Really?)
- “Whenever” (Whenever? No exceptions… not just sometimes? In all situations?)
- “You should” (Should I? Why?)

There’s no need to strike back with full force when somebody is saying “gardening is the best hobby, ever!”. Leave room for tolerance. There’s no need to question everything all the time, but there could be need for critically evaluating what somebody says to you sometimes. We all (yes – we all. you, me and the rest of the world) have the right to express what we think, and that’s something nobody should get offended. Let people tell what they think, but process the reasons (or ask for them) and tell your opinion if necessary.

Question authority, make your own conclusions based on what’s said, not who said it.

11 thoughts on “Question Authority

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  7. Juuso - Game Producer Post author

    @Tony: thanks for your comment. Good to hear you people don’t automatically accept me as an authority, but question my text.

    Basically, I a mostly agree with you. :)

    In my experience, it helps to know a person’s background in order to give history, context and weight to their statements.

    You have a point there. If I could get proof that the EA’s guy would have actually done something I’m looking for (perhaps he could give me a testimonial or some other proof of evidence that he can do job), then it’s possible that I would count on him. But even then – it’s not the authority I believe in – it’s what he has done.

    This might sound like I’m playing with semantics, but that’s not intented. And I think there’s a huge difference in this.

    As GBGames said: “It’s like those people who insist that because John Carmack said it, it must be true.”. I also think that people who say: “It’s not true because John Carmack said it” are not in the right path. Just because somebody is somebody, it doesn’t means he is to be believed. Background experience is important, but if somebody has been “20 years in the game business”, what that *really* means? Does it mean he has build his own career during the 20 years? Or, has he been a hobbyist businessman? Or has he touched computer once 20 years ago, and now counts all the years together? If there’s 20 business cases he has done then it’s bit better proof, but still I wouldn’t count somebody saying “I’ve been involved in over 20 projects” (or 200 projects) if I had no clue what he has actually done there.

    Okay, don’t get too paranoid about this, use your commons sense folks.

    you would be willing to accept the advice of an accountant on wiring your house instead of an electrician, placing an instruction from the accountant on the same level as an instruction from the electrician.

    I quote myself:

    There’s no need to question everything all the time, but there could be need for critically evaluating what somebody says to you sometimes.

    @Serkan:
    Good thinking. (I wondered whether somebody would point that out). You can and *should* question what I say here. If you think my suggestion for ‘having one computer free day every week’ is not something that suits you, then ignore me – and do it your way. If you agree with ‘Walk your talk’ then good. But don’t just believe everything I say because I say it, or even because you might agree most of the stuff. It’s okay and good disagree (sometimes ;)

    To sum it up:
    The point I’m trying to make here: If you believe somebody *just* because his authority, *never* questioning what he says, then you might not be thinking yourself. It’s good to find out his background, and get more information about what the person has really done. And even then, it’s okay to disagree. But don’t get too paranoid: it’s not always necessarily to question everything in every possible situation.

    Reply
  8. Serkan Ensoner

    Paradoxically, I can also question this blog, can’t I ?
    Fortunately, my common sense tells me that I can rely on this blog, because it does make sense. So, I adopted the idea of questioning authority. Thanks Jusso

    Reply
  9. GBGames

    It’s like those people who insist that because John Carmack said it, it must be true. Maybe, but that doesn’t make him an authority on everything. And it is possible that he is wrong on some issues.

    Reply
  10. Tony Walsh

    You make some interesting suggestions. In my experience, it helps to know a person’s background in order to give history, context and weight to their statements. If I understand your post correctly, you would be willing to accept the advice of an accountant on wiring your house instead of an electrician, placing an instruction from the accountant on the same level as an instruction from the electrician. One person is less likely to electrocute you, so why only heed what’s being said instead of who said it?

    Regarding your comment “you should remember that it’s only his one time experience,” I don’t know how you’d come to that conclusion without knowing something about the person and applying that to your judgement. By your logic, I must assume you’ve only ever dealt with one professional. What if you knew that a professional had encountered the same situation 20 times over 20 years? Personally, I would value that degree of experience over someone who had only encountered a situation once.

    In my own professional experience, I’ve worked with some clients who constantly question my recommendations. There are good questions (which I don’t mind answering) and weak ones (which are better left unasked). The weakest questions seem to be asked by clients who think they know better than I about a particular issue, despite the fact that I’ve been hired as a consultant or senior-level worker due to my experience. Not only does addressing weak questions become tiresome, but my recommendations are usually validated when cross-checked with another professional. In these cases, the client has wasted budget by second-guessing me frivolously. It’s always a good idea to be critical and analytical, but I advise weighing your own skills and experiences against the person who is giving you advice. If you have more experience on most issues discussed, why did you hire this person?

    Reply
  11. gilzu

    Yeah, people tend to force their point of view on other people. what’s right for one person, doesn’t neccassarily right for the other.

    Reply

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