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The google expert
15

The google expert

The google expert

(OP)
I'm curious how you people who would deal with the google expert. I have a peer who is an engineering manager, and he often will google something and then believe what he comes across.

Shocking, I know, but often what you find on the internet can be wrong. And when you get to a technical topic, it can often be wrong. Multiple times he's challenged me in a group setting (a dick move too, I don't do that to him or anyone else, but that's another symptom). Many times he's quite wrong, but he'll persist with the "see here, read this" type of attitude.

RE: The google expert

Sounds like most managers. I sympathize.

RE: The google expert

I have a theory that is stated this way "What goes around comes around". It may not develop right away, but in time it does. Sometimes tragically. Stay patient.

RE: The google expert

Google the 'Dunning Kruger Effect', you might have diagnosed another a sufferer?

RE: The google expert

(OP)
It would only be a 'Dunning Kruger Effect' for a specific areas of knowledge. The guy is highly intelligent, but only knowledgeable in a thin slice of technology. Outside that area, he's amazingly lacking and continually under-appreciates the complexity of doing many areas of product development. That creates friction in another area, he's got a couple of EE's that he wants me to use in my projects but he can't grasp their limitations.

RE: The google expert

Googling, while originally a very useful tool, has in some cases turned into a real pain.
Engineering as in your OP, is somehow suffering from it.

It is not, of course, a Google issue. It mainly is, one more way for that type of people who
always look for the easy answer and quick tip ( and deny to accept that there are cases, where
some more complicated theory should be applied )to give us a hard time.

I should think, same is valid for medicine (i do know a few people who are "google doctors"),
history etc.

Nevertheless, as oldestguy metioned " what goes around comes around ".

RE: The google expert

Quote:

Multiple times he's challenged me in a group setting (a dick move too, I don't do that to him or anyone else, but that's another symptom).

How is challenging someone to prove their work a dick move? Regardless, I have two standard responses for any question that I cannot fully answer on the spot. If multiple members of the group are interested then I respond that I will review the concern and a proof be attached to the meeting minutes. If only an individual is concerned then I review and send them the proof directly.

RE: The google expert

If need be, walk it back to first principles to what parts of the argument, if any, are valid. There might be a seed there that grows into a solution This isn't a Google issue. There are many good resources out there in digital and print. Pre-internet I would keep binders full of interesting articles on a variety of topics in my office and would reference them to see IF they were applicable to a given problem.

RE: The google expert

Good colleagues care more about getting the thing right than about being right themselves, but that can be tough because egoes are involved. If people on the team care most about getting the thing right than about being personally right, that will encourage challenges of and requests to defend ideas, but will also mean that the challenges will be respectful and directed toward learning and toward ensuring that the thing itself is ultimately right. Standing on ceremony or deferring to authority isn't the best way to get things right, but there's a right and a wrong way to challenge too- and plenty of learning opportunity to be had on both sides if it's done right.

RE: The google expert

2
Sometimes I'll Google a topic before I make an assertion to see what others will see if they start doing their "homework" on what I said. If the prevailing search results will lead people to other conclusions, I make sure I include enough detail in my explanation to head off any front-page Google disinformation. If I were in the manager's shoes, I might be looking to head off comments from a superior, but while lacking first hand knowledge, I would rely on my team to provide the explanation.

I have seen on some job advertisements of self-proclaimed "forward-thinking" companies that they are looking for people who, among other things, aren't afraid to Google something they don't know.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: The google expert

I've had bosses that felt the need to (ineffectively) posture for technical dominance. Combination of insecurity and poor leadership. Some of the challenges got downright silly. Some challenges cost thousands of dollars. I have yet to lose.

RE: The google expert

(OP)

Quote (CWB1)

How is challenging someone to prove their work a dick move?

Asking for the information on a design & clarification on technical points is not a dick move, and I have no issue with that. Announcing in the group that my fundamentals are wrong on a regular basis is another matter. I've got info to back up what I say, and I don't hide it - I'm very open with all of my work.

RE: The google expert

Quote (MatthewDB)

I've got info to back up what I say, and I don't hide it - I'm very open with all of my work.

You are a threat to him. Anyone that knows more than him will be perceived as a threat.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: The google expert

I used to know someone who read up the latest magazine articles and would then spout off about how we should immediately develop ternary, and up, logic devices, because that was the coming thing. I've not seen any, have you? In the meantime, they were absurdly insecure, to the extent that I got hauled up in front of my manager for "interfering" with their project because their engineer asked me for help. Needless to say, when they announced their depart for greener and ternary-er pastures, we organized a great going away party, but oops, forgot to invite them. Nevertheless, a grand time was had by all and we bid them a fond adieu.

There was another at the same company who actually was pretty smart, but seemed to need to make a point of it by asking leading questions at internal reviews, just to stump the speaker and then proceed to answer their own question. Annoying issue of a bee-atch, they later showed up at a company I was working at and had the gall to claim credit for solving a problem at the previous company. Of course, I was the one who actually solved the problem, and I never ran into them at any tiger team meetings, so they never even knew who solved the problem. GONG!, that applicant was outta there. winky smile The most satisfying interview I recall...

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: The google expert

Google doesn't make someone an expert but an expert with google can dig up some pretty useful stuff quickly. I saw what my predecessors had to do. Book shelves of manuals, notebooks, marked up books, printed up pages. Good luck finding whatever you needed. You had to basically find the expert just to find the relevant material.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

RE: The google expert

Quote (HamburgerHelper)

...Book shelves of manuals, notebooks, marked up books, printed up pages...
What? You don't still do that? wink I'm often in a discussion where I pull a book off my shelf to provide an example, or more depth to what I'm talking about.
Maybe I should back off a bit... Well there aren't many contests or cold wars going on in my office. So far I haven't pulled out a book just for the sake of proving someone wrong.

STF

RE: The google expert

I'm concerned that this person thinks Googling around makes them able to challenge fundamentals they themselves are not familiar with - this is just wrong and I'm surprised they haven't already been burned enough times to stop doing this of their own accord.

RE: The google expert

I've come to the conclusion that pre-frontal cortex development, which determines judgement, doesn't always occur by your late 20s; I think that some people never fully develop their pre-frontal cortex.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: The google expert

Used to be instead of spending 'coffee break' surfing the internet, engineers would spend time perusing trade magazines and if something caught your eye you could fill out the blow-in card at the back of the magazine to get more information sent to you - either for your own files or for the 'department technical library'

So things don't change, we just do them faster

RE: The google expert

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters

To me, this sums it up nicely. This is a rampant problem across the spectrum of life. We can get a lot of information from the internet and other sources; however, I would never stack up what I learn from those sources against the knowledge of an expert that's been studying whatever subject for 30 or more years.

I met an EE Saturday morning that does circuit design for a local instrument manufacturer. He's been doing this for about 40 years. After listening to him, I need to get some new books to align with more recent knowledge.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: The google expert

Quote:

Asking for the information on a design & clarification on technical points is not a dick move, and I have no issue with that. Announcing in the group that my fundamentals are wrong on a regular basis is another matter.

So where should he share his concerns then? We do similar regularly, engineers who cant adequately support their design/analysis in the current meeting review minor details with a supervisor or senior engineer afterward. Usually after having their work questioned a few times folks are more prepared to support their work in meetings, its part of the reason I usually have my presentation as well as necessary models/sims ready in the background.

RE: The google expert

(OP)

Quote (CWB1)

So where should he share his concerns then? We do similar regularly, engineers who cant adequately support their design/analysis in the current meeting review minor details with a supervisor or senior engineer afterward. Usually after having their work questioned a few times folks are more prepared to support their work in meetings, its part of the reason I usually have my presentation as well as necessary models/sims ready in the background.

There is a presumption in your post, that I'm not ready to share everything backing up my work. That's not the case. I keep everything on a shared folder that anyone in the division is free to review. I make it know how it is organized. During a meeting I'm totally fine with pulling it up.

The issue is that when the counter point to my decisions are "I googled this article, it must be right" it is hard to have a substantive discussion. Particularly with someone who doesn't want to admit that if they want to weigh in on the argument, they better be more informed on the topic than they are.

RE: The google expert

2
re: The Death of Expertise

To some degree, that's TLDR territory. Ultimately, does it matter if no one who needs to read it reads it? Once someone convinces themselves they're experts, who's now qualified to argue against them? And, is this really new? The Moon Landing doubters have at it for decades; it's just now spreading to the masses.

The bigger issue isn't the wealth of knowledge, per se; it's the fact that someone who's invested in a partial factoid that's incorrect will defend the error with irrationality, as they have nowhere to go if they are proven wrong, nor can they comprehend why they're wrong in the first place.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: The google expert

3
(OP)

Quote (oldestguy)

I have a theory that is stated this way "What goes around comes around". It may not develop right away, but in time it does. Sometimes tragically. Stay patient.

You're right! I need to not dwell on any of it, because it will come around again. I'm a driven person so patience is hard but this is certainly one of those cases.

Quote (IRstuff)

The bigger issue isn't the wealth of knowledge, per se; it's the fact that someone who's invested in a partial factoid that's incorrect will defend the error with irrationality, as they have nowhere to go if they are proven wrong, nor can they comprehend why they're wrong in the first place.

Something I've caught onto over the years is figuring out what kind of student / engineer a co-worker is with regards to the way they learn and they way they understand.

There are those that lean via an appeal to authority. Their professor in college is an authority. Their mentors and other engineers they consider a good engineer are an authority. They take the advice, "rules of thumb", procedures, etc... to heart and duplicate those throughout a career. They can be decent, reliable engineers.

Then there are those who seek and understand the fundamentals at a deep level. They understand what's behind the rules of thumb, the procedures, where that advice came from.

When you're doing "turn the crank" engineering, either is OK. When you tread into new territories, or are doing something outside the box, working with one versus the other is a huge difference. When you do something new, those that use the authority of previous professors or mentors don't have much to fall back on. It leaves them unable to critique, expand on the idea, and really contribute. When you get into a disagreement with the first group and you're not deemed an "authority" it becomes nearly impossible to have a factual discussion over engineering work.

RE: The google expert

Assuming the article itself is a worthwhile source, I do that all the time and ask if its contents are relevant to the problem at hand. If I understand the article completely and it has relevant info that hasn't already been incorporated in a solution (which usually is not the case), then I will bring it up in a review meeting. But if that article talks about topics that are beyond my depth (which is how I am interpreting the OP's description of the manager's scope of expertise), I don't use that ONE article as the only foundation to start questioning things I don't have a working understanding of. That behaviour really does not befit someone that is supposed to an engineer - it's just a bad way of problem solving IMO.

If I think an article I don't have a full understanding of could be valuable, I will suggest to the more knowledgeable person offline if they would review the source, and try to convey why I think it might be worth their time, and tell me if they found it useful - but that's about as far as I'd be willing to go. If I were a manager, maybe I'd ask for an email of their thoughts to ensure they read it to make myself feel better - but even that seems a bit too pushy for my tastes.

RE: The google expert

In my company we have several areas of practice, structural engineering for new construction, (mostly highrise), seismic retrofit, facade engineering, forensic investigation, property loss consulting, sustainability, and renewel. The last one is where I fit in. I do the waterproofing and building envelope commissioning jobs. Renewel is where the architects who deal with real nuts and bolts issues are. We are the ones that fix the leaks and design the buildings to meet current codes after they burn down. I actually have to solve the problems, deal with bilding officials and end users, make drawings, write specifications, and take the heat if anything goes wrong.

I've got a "googlemeister' from the facade group who fancies himself to be a budding waterproofing expert. He is constantly sending emails asking for help or some magical reference he can look at to design the waterproofing/flashing/roofing. He and his poor little minions send screenshots of websites to ask if the product is OK to use without giving even the most basic of information. My boss and I make fun of him, but I cringe every time I see his name on an email. I consider him to be dangerous. I'm just waiting for the day he sends a link to FlexSeal for use on his large, corporate project in Anaheim. I already spent considerable time trying to convince him that he can't put glass shards and paint all over a new TPO roof membrane to 'make it pretty.'

MatthewDB, I guess my only suggestion is to grit your teeth and hope that your Mr.Google will eventually hoist himself by his own petard. I'm waiting for that day with my own googlemonster.

If you are offended by the things I say, imagine the stuff I hold back.

RE: The google expert

cassieopeia,
I googled "TPO roof membrane" to find out what you meant. Now, after seeing the GAF homepage, I know exactly what it is. I'll tell all my coworkers about it. They will be impressed.

STF

RE: The google expert

SparWeb,

Glad to help.

If you are offended by the things I say, imagine the stuff I hold back.

RE: The google expert

My brother had a TPO roof put on my father's house because we were tired of redoing the tar and gravel roof, particular since the gravel would get washed down into a drain that would then get clogged that would then overflow and flood the bathroom etc. We've had no drain overflows since then.

Why glass shards? Aside from being dangerous to walk on, they're dangerous to the TPO membrane.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: The google expert

IRstuff,

Glass shards because they come in various colors and are all sparkly. I'm actually talking about various colored gravel and glass you can purchase at landscape suppliers. You can't put it on your TPO roof without protection. I'm not a fan of TPO. They have been fooling around with the formulation because of several high-profile failures, always coming out with, "OK, now we fixed it." PVC has a much better track record.

If you are offended by the things I say, imagine the stuff I hold back.

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