Is Not Saying "I Don't Know" a Guy Thing?

Our most recent podcast, "Why Is 'I Don't Know' So Hard to Say?," continues to draw interesting replies. Here's one from Erich Knobil, who works in the finance office of the Falls Baptist Church & Academy in Menomonee Falls, Wisc.:

A couple of minor notes about "I don't know" --

Someone (a consultant) once told me the "Consultant's Motto" was "Maybe wrong, but never in doubt."

Someone else (female) once called it "Male Answer Disorder (MAD)," where men seem compelled to always have an answer for everything.

Anyone know of any good empirical work on whether MAD is real?

More on Saying "I Don't Know"

In our latest podcast, "Why Is 'I Don't Know' So Hard to Say?," Levitt talked about how it is practically forbidden in the business world to say that you don't know the answer to a question, lest you be deemed incompetent or irrelevant.

That idea has generated some reader feedback that I thought was interesting enough to share. First, from Mike Wrubel, an office manager for a medical practice in Elkhart, Indiana:

I would generally agree with the notion that people in business are very much inclined to not say "I don't know." I have worked in the same hospital for 20 years, and while I am very comfortable saying it, not everyone else is. I think people fear being perceived by others as they are not paying attention to their work, or being seen as incompetent, or that it's their job to "know."

The Art of Trashing the Classics

We've written before about the occasional hyper-critical comments on certain blogs, but such comments are like valentines compared to what some customers heap upon The Rolling Stones, The Godfather, The Dairy of Anne Frank, and other standards. The Cynical-C blog lists the most caustic of these every day.

Boo This Post

Terry Teachout, meditating on a rare outburst of booing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, wonders if classical music and theater are being diminished by a superabundance of standing ovations and a scarcity of negative feedback. What if theater and orchestra audiences behaved more like blog commenters? Not too long ago, they did; in […]

One Great Reply to Our "Favorite Scientist" Query

Yesterday we invited you to tell us your favorite scientists. The replies make for great reading. I would think that for anyone working in the field (science education, publishing, etc.) the answers could also be very useful. One of my favorite lists comes from a reader named Hale McMichael, a University of Texas senior who […]

How Many Reviews Are Too Many?

| Does the 3,250th review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have any influence on an Amazon customer? An Economist article says it does. In fact, says the article, the more online reviews a product has, the more likely people are to buy it. If reviewers know the reviews they write have influence, it […]

Comment, Comment on the Wall, Are You Community or Not at All

One of the coolest things about posting at Freakonomics is the chance to be educated by your high-quality comments, which add to our posts and sometimes correct our mistakes. But to be honest, every once in a while I have been depressed by the harsh general tone of criticism. (For example, the comments here got […]

Our Daily Bleg: Why Do You Vote?

We received an interesting bleg from Martin Saavedra, who is studying international economics and finance at the Catholic University of America and plans to start an economics Ph.D. next fall. He is interested in a subject we’ve written about before — the utility of voting — although he is after a more personal set of […]

Boston Legal Way Classier Than Beauty and the Geek?

Thanks to all the readers who wrote in last week with news that Freakonomics was mentioned on the TV show Boston Legal. It happened at the end, when the William Shatner character and the James Spader character were having their ritual end-of-the-episode scotch, musing about law and the world. Alan Shore (Spader): Well, it’s possible […]

The President, the Economy, and the Lag

I love the people who read this blog and send us e-mails. (Well, not all of them — but only because I don’t know all of them yet, I am sure.) Consider Paul Kimelman. He lives in Alamo, Calif., and is C.T.O. of the Texas-based microcontroller company Luminary Micro. In the past, he has sent […]