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Feeling stupid?

  1. Jun 22, 2007 #1
    So I was reading a journal article and I saw the phrase "electrostatic wave", and I became somewhat disgruntled and ranted a little bit to the guys I share an office with, since the phrase is seemingly an oxymoron....'electrostatic' implies a time invariant field and therefore a 'wave' cannot be produced. Well, a few hours later I decided to look the term up in google and apparently it is a very commonly used term. I feel dumb. Sometimes I just get too carried away about little things like this.

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  3. Jun 23, 2007 #2
    I think there's a difference between feeling dumb and feeling ignorant. I feel dumb when I'm not able to understand something that I feel should not be that hard to get. Ignorant is just you didn't know something. You can't know everything, no matter how smart you are. Even the most gifted individuals are ignorant in some areas. But you looked it up and now you learned something you didn't know. ... so you should feel good that now you're that little bit less ignorant of something than you used to be!

    I'm kind of fussy with the use of the words "dumb" and "ignorant." When someone calls someone else dumb for not knowing something (like, say, the capital of france)... well that's not dumbness, that's ignorance. that person can have an IQ of 160 for all you know, and it just so happens that they don't know a thing about world geography.

    ... but it's been a looooong night of BBQing and loud music and drinking and eating incredibly unhealthy foods, and I'm way too tired. so I doubt any of this I wrote makes too much sense.
  4. Jun 23, 2007 #3


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    I don't think he was referring to the lack of knowledge of the term, but to his ranting and raving about it without having bothered to look it up to see what it actually means. Hopefully his office mates just took it as a joke, or else he has now learned to look up the meaning of a term before criticizing its use in the future. :biggrin:

    It is sometimes helpful to be aware of how a term appears to the non-technical reader (even if you're supposed to be technically-minded when doing the reading). There will be times in one's scientific career when it is important to write a non-technical version of what you're doing, so keeping in mind the confusion such terms can cause will help remind you to avoid them without an appropriate explanation when you need to prepare such non-technical descriptions of your work. Once you've been doing something for a while, you tend to forget that not everyone knows the meaning of some terms, so maybe an experience like that will benefit you to keep it stuck in your head that it's not blatantly obvious to everyone. :smile:
  5. Jun 23, 2007 #4


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    I feel dumb as a stump every time I log in to PF. It's very humbling to go from being the smartest guy in my neighbourhood to being a total dunce with a couple of keystrokes. That's why I love it so much; it's a learning experience every time. And the best part is that I (along with any newcomers) am treated more of less as an equal while being taught. The folks here go out of their way to make you not feel stupid for asking a legitimate question.
  6. Jun 23, 2007 #5


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    Except in this case, the term is more confusing to a person who understands the terms than to a non-technically minded reader.

    Not that I'd come up with a better name, but some try to add some clarification by calling it a standing electrostatic wave. Not much better.
  7. Jun 23, 2007 #6
    yea, some members here are like walking encyclopedias :bugeye:
  8. Jun 23, 2007 #7
    Yes, it was actually by ranting about the term and later realizing it was a commonly used term, even if it is an illogical term.
  9. Jun 23, 2007 #8


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    You speak truly, m'man. Astro has to be the grand champion on that one. He can pull **** out of his beard that mere mortals don't even know exists. At the same time, we PM back and forth and he treats me as a friend rather than the dummy in the corner.
    That's what the whole PF scene is about. Nobody is ever made to feel stupid or inadequate for asking a question, however rudimentary, to which s/he wants a straight answer. People who think that they're the cat's ass are sent scuttling into the bushes very quickly. Only when one asks a question and refuses to accept the expert answers is one shot down in flames. Even then, it's done in a civilized manner.
  10. Jun 23, 2007 #9
  11. Jun 23, 2007 #10


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    Feeling stupid is really bad, but being stupid must be great these days!:tongue:
  12. Jun 23, 2007 #11


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    I agree with this. Astrodude amazes me with his beard every time I read one of his posts.
  13. Jun 23, 2007 #12
    The only thing that truly makes me feel stupid is math. I never feel stupid with other subjects... most other subjects I grasp fairly easily and learn fast. But I feel like a monkey when it comes to numbers and it's frustrating sometimes.

    and working with hardware too. I'm a disaster with building things, and working on a car or tools or something like that.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2007
  14. Jun 23, 2007 #13


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    Everyone has his/her niche. I'm very mechanically inclined, so we differ on that. What is similar (although you're probably ahead of me) is that I have a grade 9 math education. The only trouble that I ever got into in high-school was for assaulting a math teacher at the beginning of grade 10, and I never took the subject since. (It was in defense of a fellow student, by the way, and the principal agreed with me. Unfortunately, the math faculty didn't.)
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