Monday, January 22, 2007

Idiots and Dummies 

I've always been turned off by the "Complete Idiot's Guide to [blank]" and the "[blank] for dummies" books. I'll read them (and buy them) for subjects I know knowing about, like sewing and calculus, both subjects I'm currently trying to teach myself and both subjects that I am very open to admitting I know nothing about (or that what I know if what I've been able to figure out on my own). When I get a house with a work space, I'll find a similar book on carpentry, because I don't know a jigsaw from a hacksaw, and all I know about chainsaws it that they have motors and blades on a rotating tread.

But I need help writing a paper. I can't take one of these books seriously, even though I flip though and there is valuable advice.

I accept that the premise of these books isn't that the intended reader is an idiot, i.e., incapable of learning. The intended reader is copmletely uneducated but capable and eager to learn. That's a perferctly respectable (and if admitted, admirable) place to be. And I'll accept as a joke that I'm stupid rather than ignorant at sewing and calculus. I'm willing to buy those books.

But the books on topics I like to think, or need to think, I know something about? No way. Even if the books are by respected authorities. Even if it's a topic I really need the basics on (for example, a particular mental illness - and I'm pursuing an MA in psychology). I can't get past the series title. I can't read it. I won't read it. I'll pick up something else, something less more limited, with less overview. The book I choose may or may not be what I need.

I can't get past the brand. Sometimes the brand lures me, sometimes it pushes me away.

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