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"The confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals" - Input Junkie
November 5th, 2011
10:57 am


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"The confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals"
I get the intention of "The confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals"-- that professionals wish they could be as certain as people who don't know much of anything about their subject-- but I get distracted by the idea that the confidence of amateurs is equivalent to the envy of professionals, which makes no sense.

Besides, I'm not sure that professionals really envy amateurs' certainty about the professionals' field. People tend to like the knowledge they've got. However, this usually doesn't stop them from making amateur generalizations about things they're not familiar with.

Would "The confidence of amateurs is the despair of professionals" be better?

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[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
It makes perfect sense to me as it is. If you hadn't pointed it out, it would never have occurred to me to read "is" as "is equivalent to." The phrase "is the envy of" is an idiom for me: That is, the words form a semantic unit and it does not occur to me to parse them word by word.

As to your second paragraph, the phrasing strikes me as clearly meant ironically: The literal assertion ("amateurs have a quality that professionals wish to have") figuratively expresses a denial ("amateurs have a quality no professional actually wishes to have"). I think if you rephrased it to remove the irony you would blunt the impact.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
I don't think that professionals envy the amateurs' opinions, as an object on its own... I didn't interpret the line that way myself.

My interpretation of the statement was that professionals wish they could be as certain in their professional judgements as amateurs, but they know too much about the field to be that certain. If the pros could know as much as they do and be as confident in their judgements are amateurs are, I think they'd sleep better at night.

Your interpretation is a rephrasing of the old, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread," which is a rather different casting of a related sentiment.

-- Steve thinks the original phrase is a wishing away of "imposter syndrome", rather than a lament over the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
Date:November 5th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
"The confidence of amateurs is the despair of professionals"

Sounds like my previous tech support job... I had to fix more things because people thought they knew what they were doing.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Make two buttons, one for each. It's quite different meanings, both worth buttoning.

"X is the envy of Person/s" is a common, if old-fashioned, expression. It claims that Person/s envy you if you have X.


In those examples, X really is something especially good. I think your button is using it ironically: 'Professionals [would] envy the confidence of amateurs [if the confidence were justified].' Meaning that amateurs have a degree of confidence that no professional would ever have, because professionals know it's not possible in the real world. Professionals might wistfully 'envy' the innocence and naivete of the amateurs.
[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I don't envy the amatuers' confidence. I clean up after it. (You have to have confidence to notice you're in over your head, yet keep digging.)

Still, it goes both ways. Nobody said "beginner's luck" was always _good_ luck...
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