Categories
Skepticism/critical thinking

I learned a new word today…gnoron

Often, my readers educated me. Sometimes, they even teach me a new word. So it was last night when, as I perused my comments, I came across this comment by Antaeus Feldspar:

A “gnoron” is like a moron, except that where a moron is lacking in intelligence (something they cannot help, of course) a gnoron is someone of decent intelligence whose own willful ignorance has brought them to an equivalent state of incompetence.

If there’s better term for people whom the arrogance of ignorance has rendered into the functional equivalent of a moron, I haven’t heard it. In fact, I think I might well start using it, linking back to this post to explain it. In the meantime, have fun in the comments by naming and describing people who qualify for and richly deserve this appellation.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

62 replies on “I learned a new word today…gnoron”

I second reasonablehank. Meryl wins hands down for the nonsense she is peddling over at AVN. It would almost be funny if the misinformation she peddles wasn’t so potentially harmful. Gnoron indeed.

Meryl Dorey and her disciples. Having had the displeasure of meeting one online, she did seem intelligent if somewhat misguided until she spewed the line that sunscreen causes cancer. All bets were off after that.

I was going to say Sarah Palin, but she is mostly an uneducated moron with a big dose of gnoronicism.

So I nominate Michelle Bachmann as queen of the gnorons.

Oh there are just too many I want to nominate for this moniker GNORON….Let’s see, most of the Infectious Disease physicians who deny the chronicity of Borreliosis, and the complexity of tick borne illnesses in general. Let’s add to that many of the other physicians who spend 5 minutes with patients, thinking about where they want to have dinner later.

May I nominate Thoroughly disgusted mom @ #8 for Gnoronically Unaware Poster of the Month?

Oh wait, let me first suggest Orac create a Gnoronically Unaware Poster of the Month award… 🙂

I’m having trouble thinking of any anti-science moron possessing more than a skerrick of intelligence. I guess I’ll have to stick with Jay Gordon.

As much as I hope that someday he may grow out of his gnoron-ness, I have to nominate Jake Crosby. This is someone who has openly admitted that no matter how thoroughly the evidence demolishes the “vaccines cause autism” theory, he will never stop believing it.

Dr. Gordon, everyone, including your patients, would better off if you exceeded our expectations instead of meeting then. The ire you get comes from the fact that you lend credence to advice that can harm or kill people if followed.

@NewEnglandBob (#7)

I think Palin and Bachman are more like poser gnorons. They don’t actually know enough to be guilty of willful moronicness. They just see all their heroes being gnorons, so they try to act the same way. They want everyone to think that they, too, wallow in intentional ignorance. But in their case, it’s more congenital than intentional.

ORAC suggests naming and describing people who qualify for and richly deserve this appellation (GNORON) ???

Has ORAC reduced the Scientific Method to name calling?

I can only hope that ORAC returns to his senses and actually goes back to his roots uses his gift of critical thinking.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio talk show host use the term “Dumbgerous” to describe people that are so ignorant/stupid as to be dangerous.

Dear Bob,
Try not to be such a humor-impaired fucktard will you? The goddam blog is called Respectful Insolence for a reason. That is what is known as an ironic name. You are not only a possible gnoron, but may be irony-defficient as well.

Bob:

I know what ORAC means when he says “the stupid, it burns”

I suspect this is true – perhaps you know better than most of us – but not in the way you think it is.

Such a broad, dehumanized label sounds childish at best or thuggish, as well as ineffective, even if the label reflects some serious pent-up frustrations.

Broad dismissal of opponents as gno-rons invites disaster down the road.

Related concept: Lamebeciles – People who will accept and repeat lame arguments for their pet causes even though they would otherwise be smart enough to see the flaws.

Am I alone in the land of Respectful Insolence?

Does anyone see that name calling is exactly what “promotes the idea that “mainstream” science and medicine are uninformed, biased, and corrupt”?

When you see a “scientist” resorting to rebuttal-by-name calling, you know that you’re not seeing “science”.

The way real scientists deal with disagreement is not by name calling.

I suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.

suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.

My goodness, the tone and concern trolls have come out of the woodwork to clutch their pearls, haven’t they? They must be new here. Heck, I didn’t even use phrases like “The stupid, it burns,” “napalm-grade stupid,” or “neuron-apoptosing stupid” even once. Normally, I’d expect that I’d at least have to pepper a post with a few phrases like that to get this level of complaint. Oh, well, my readership must be getting more sensitive.

Whatever the case, I will tell these new tone trolls what I tell everyone who complains about the “tone” here (that is, when I bother to tell them anything at all): If the “tone” here bothers you so much, no one is forcing you to subject your delicate eyes to what Orac lays down here. Some days, it’s pure, dispassionate science. Some days it’s not-so-Respectful Insolence. You can never predict which it will be on any given day.

“Has ORAC reduced the Scientific Method to name calling?

I can only hope that ORAC returns to his senses and actually goes back to his roots uses his gift of critical thinking.”

I don’t think so Bob. Ever since the PepsiScienceBlogs incident, the critical thinking has fallen to new lows, essentially nothing more than name-calling and raspberries to anyone who isn’t a ‘psychofant’. I can only guess that perhaps Pepsi has had more influence than first thought.

Actually “the stupid, it burns” would be a reasonably cute response to a series of bald assertions that are simply, factually wrong. Its use is less effective and more risky to project any opinions in a controversy, when someone knowledgeable can dissect it for errors and bias, now or later.

Jingoistic name calling is simply counterproductive to any pretense of civil, rational discourse. Typically feels good within a herd mentality at the time, but may sound unbalanced or defensive to passersby and may poorly.

prn, your claims above are hyperbolic balderdash. You seem to be suggesting that the views of ‘opponents’ are entitled to as much consideration as others. The problem with that argument is that most people can only listen to so much repetitive stupid before taking the piss becomes the natural response. If people want to engage in thoughtful discourse then by all means do it, but the mantra like claims, and circular arguing by many do not deserve a thoughful reply.

Poor Bob. Sounds like he’s suffering a terminal case of Humour Deficit Disorder. Day to day life must be ever so grueling and grim for you Bob.
You have my utmost sympathy.

I always liked “stupeptitude.” I would think that Palin and Bachmann fall into that category, as they’ve both been shown to have the 2 qualities that make up the word.

My vote for gnoron would have to be Oprah, as she seems not only to be one but to create them.

There are also Borons, who are so boring that their moronity isn’t even entertaining.

Bob: “Does anyone see that name calling is exactly what “promotes the idea that “mainstream” science and medicine are uninformed, biased, and corrupt””?

Nah. What promotes that are the gnorons who yammer on about how proponents of “mainstream” science and medicine are just a bunch of Pharma shills.

“I suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.”

I suspect your suspicions are correct. The way to remedy that is to nurture your brain on the valuable information and sciency goodness to be found herein, and stop concentrating obsessively on tone.

How about internidiots? Definition would be people who might very well be normal offline, but once online are immensely stupid.

Examples from this post include: bob, prn and psycofant.

I’ll be generous and give Dr. Gordon a pass this time.

@JohnV But only because your qualifier is people who are only stupid online, and not just stupid all the time.

One thing Jay does have on trolls like Sid & augie (among others) is that he at least tries to build coherent arguments, even if they are based on erroneous assumptions or data. He attempts to offer at least some basis for what he argues – which I have to respect – as opposed to most of the other spammers that run & gun with just plain nonsense.

And while we do have a tendency to be extremely “insolent” to those that have proven, time and time again, that they will ignore any facts or evidence that contradict their closely-held opinions, I think, as a group, those that approach with actual honest questions are treated very well (compared to what you would find at places like AoA).

@32, Sharon
prn, your claims above are hyperbolic balderdash. You seem to be suggesting that the views of ‘opponents’ are entitled to as much consideration as others.

It’s not the views of the ‘opponents’ that require consideration, it’s the audience. Once one stoops to blind name calling, one loses the argument with the fresh audience that counts, because they’ll likely stop listening. These arguments, the semi-pro proponents (either side) merely sharpen their points and polish their rhetoric after noting any new information, positional change is very slow, if any.

Embarrassing, unthinking, unrestrained rhetoric, including name calling, by one’s supposed allies and fellow travellers can be your worst enemy. Just look at some of the catcalls, above. Not exactly building credibility.

The problem with that argument is that most people can only listen to so much repetitive stupid before taking the piss becomes the natural response.

Outright trolling is where page moderation starts. The threshold problems of moderator bias, the appearance of bias, and threshold creep swinging the hammer.

I suppose for repetitious generic [newbie, stupid] arguments, “see [linked] FAQ #yyy” might be useful.

Gnoron doesn’t translate well from written to spoken, assuming the g is silent. Think ignoron works better.

@ crn, thanks for your reply, which under other circumstances I might agree with. But look at the topic. It’s clearly a post of jest. It seems clear to me that there is no intent to educate (well apart from inform others about a funny word) or sway others with an empirically based argument etc. I think the point you make is valid when the context is intending to achieve the end you speak of above. But in this case I see it as nothing more than some light relief. I would like to think any newcomers to this site would read beyond this post to get a broad understanding of what it has to offer.

As a prefatory note, let me say that I took the post and the term as @Sharon suggested it should be taken, and I like the term when it is appropriately used as nomenclature after appropriate diagnosis.

For that purpose, I find Orac to be a master diagnostician.

However, it is worth remembering that moron began as a diagnostic term, but became coopted in common rhetorical usage to stand in for “I applied my intelligence and came to a correct conclusion, and since you disagree with me, your intelligence is obviously defective.”

While calling someone a moron is not the most probable path by which to gain a convert, the real peril lies in the sociological context, where groups coalesce by the use of normative behaviors/memes that include and exclude.

Consider that following the introduction and population of the nomenclature to classify people as morons or or non-morons, the application of eugenics led to compulstory sterilization and institutionalization of people classified as morons.

Sometimes people are simply wrong, but sometimes their cognitive systems are operating under different principles. In the latter case, progress in resolving differences comes when at least one of the parties commits to actually understanding the position of the other.

Sure, there are a fair share of whackaloons arguing a “controversy” who fit the first case, but when a significant proportion of the American population gives some credence to those arguments, it is important to understand why that happens (can the Flintstones really explain why 41% of Americans believe cavemen and dinosaurs coexisted?), and to be wary of applying convenient nomenclature that fits our conceptions as a substitute for understanding.

So, looking beyond the jestful context of this post, it’s worth considering why someone of decent intelligence would be willfully ignorant.

PS And, in the spirit of adapting Goddard’s classifications for coinage in the realm of the Internet, perhaps “idiobecile” – a person rendered incapable of objective reasoning by the persistence of ideological beliefs?…

Gnoron — sounds like a new particle.
(headline) researchers at CERN today annoucned the discovery of the gnoron. It’s an incredibly dense particle.

Seems kind of redundant given that people who apparently fit the description account for the overwhelming majority of my uses of terms like “moron.” (Especially when they’re behind the wheel of a car – if they were actually as oblivious and thought-free as their driving suggests they presumably wouldn’t HAVE a job to be going to, or to spend the money from).

Ok, I’ll play. Do you really think people here and in other forums have not considered the question Hali Yikama? I can assure you lots have, and recent books (the most recent I know of is Seth Mnookin’s Panic Virus)outline their hypothesis of how seemingly reasonable people have been so willing to buy the conspiracy line.
Here’s my theory in a nutshell for what it’s worth. People who ascribe to all manner of conspriacy theories are motivated to do so by the arrogant sense of superiorty it gives them. They feel as if they possess non mainstream knowledge, and this makes them more intelligent and special than most. They believe they have avoided being duped via their superior powers of analysis. It’s the same mental process those in cults use. They are convinced they possess special knowledge and insight into an issue, this bolsters their sense of self, and is what also serves to make it next to impossible to let go of a theory once they have embraced it. It is more than changing an opinion, it means giving up the smug sense of superiorty that comes with the delusion. Reading accounts by those who left cults and like minded, one eyed, self interest groups, it is clear that the process is slow and painful, and requires the letting go of deeply ingrained beliefs, but more importantly the sense of belonging to the ‘group’.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get my drift. I may be wrong but that’s my thoughts for now.

Some days, it’s pure, dispassionate science. Some days it’s not-so-Respectful Insolence. You can never predict which it will be on any given day.

Which is exactly why I come here every day. I appreciate both.

sharon:

Do you really think people here and in other forums have not considered the question Hali Yikama?

FYI, Hali Yikama is a spammer who cut and pasted from geolith.

Here’s my theory in a nutshell for what it’s worth. People who ascribe to all manner of conspriacy theories are motivated to do so by the arrogant sense of superiorty it gives them.

That’s a possible reason. I suggest that another possibility is that the reasons for subscribing to certain conspiracy theories depends on the particular contents of the theory.

Take the theories about vaccines or mercury causing autism (… please). Now autism is genetic, so if one has an autistic child, it means that in a certain, arguably twisted sense, one is at “fault” for the autism. That’s a hard enough pill to swallow as is. It also means that one really has little control over one’s child being autistic. Blaming the vaccines or the mercury takes the blame off one’s genes, and it also gives a sense of control, since one “knows” what one could have done to prevent one’s kid’s autism. If one outright blames the mercury or other purported toxins, then there are concrete steps one can take to try to undo the autism, such as chelation “therapy.” Of course, that sense of control is illusory.

Another one from the Urban Dictionary.
“gnosonarcissism”

This word is a combination of “gnosis” (knowledge) and “narcissist” (a self-centered person). So, a gnosonarcissist is a person who believes in a self-centered way that his level of knowledge is correct and/or complete despite what others know. This implies a lack of understanding that others might know more in areas of knowledge in either a horizontal way (breadth of knowledge) or a vertical way (depth of knowledge).

Dudley was a gnosonarcissist who believed that his own limited understanding was better than the the knowledge of others who knew much more.

By Gregory V. Richardson

Going back to the original suggestion…
I nominate Bill Maher. He’s a smart guy yet he has peddled anti-vaccine nonsense and spoken out against anti-biotics with the idea that you wouldn’t need them if you just took better care of yourself. It’s not that he’s stupid it’s just that he is wilfully ignorant on these issues and prefers quackery over science.

I nominate the Pope as a stand-in for any other religious leader or follower, i.e., believers in god, the ultimate wu.

Alternate nominee: Ingrid Newkirk as a representative of all the animal rights nuts who deny any benefit to humans or animals from animal research.

Why isn’t ignoramus good enough?

Mind you, I’m a big fan of wordplay. If gnoron will capture the essence, that’s fine with me. Deliberate know-nothings, and proud of it, have been around for a longer than I’ve been alive, and I’m practical ancient.

“When you see a “scientist” resorting to rebuttal-by-name calling, you know that you’re not seeing “science”.”

Bob, why the scare quotes around ‘scientist’ and ‘science’ in the sentence above?

Republicans who are trying to repeal the healthcare law. They say cutting spending and reducing the deficit are their main priorities, but they’re trying to repeal the healthcare law (which does both) because it was a law originating from Pres. Obama and passed by the then-Democratic majority.

I wish they’d get over themselves and do what’s best for the American people, instead of opposing anything they didn’t think of themselves.

Comments are closed.