How to appear smarter than you actually are

I’m a big faker. I edit shit all the time that I don’t know the first thing about and then try to make reasonably intelligent queries that make it seem like I know what the fuck I’m doing. Which I don’t.

As a copyeditor I already know what I need to know. I know how to stare at an equation and then compare it to how the variables and other things I don’t really understand are set it in the text. So when I set “t” in italics on page 6, it makes it look like I know what the variable means, when in fact, I’ve just made it consistent to how it appeared on the equation on page 23. Being consistent makes you appear smart.

I know how to spell. I can spot the difference between an adenocarcinoma and an adenocarcimoma. And if I don’t know whether “disome” is upper case or lower case, I search in the archives of the journal I’m working on to see how other people have set it. Majority wins. In this case, disome is consistently set lower case. I mostly don’t know what any of these words actually mean.

I parrot author’s words back to them out of ignorance. If I could say “AU: Please confirm that the sinusoidal structure of the intergalactic gargle blasters conforms to the 30-parsec model mentioned on p. 7” in other words, I surely would.

The last thing I do before turning a paper back to the author or editor is read all author queries twice. This way I don’t end up letting the author read one of my stupid asides that go something like “Please revise sentence so I know what you’re talking about” on a polite day.

How do you cover your intellectual ass?


4 responses to “How to appear smarter than you actually are

  1. I keep my mouth shut. You’d be surprised how many people pretend they’re looking for information, and then when given said information want to debate. The people who really want to know are receptive and quiet, the others are met with silence.
    I also do twice as much research to compensate for what I lack in the proper background. I’m a proponent of the person who works the hardest wins.

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