About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Voted and Quoted

So in the first ever Votes on Quotes poll, the votes broke down as:

Adventure: 1 vote
Beauty: 0 Votes
Justice: 1 Vote
Popular Opinion: 3 Votes

As you can see, the winner by a huge margin, with 300% of the votes of the nearest contender, is "Popular Opinion". Thus, I give you:

I'm not sure I want popular opinion on my side - I've noticed those with the most opinions often have the fewest facts.
~Bethania McKenstry

I'm not sure where I got this quote, but it was very likely from a mail subscription to "Quote of the Day", which I used to subscribe to. It certainly struck me, though, as a very real truth. Or two, really, since this particular quote is kind of a "two in one".

On the one hand, there's the hint that just because a bunch of people hold a certain opinion, the opinion is not necessarily true. To wit:

A sample of very old (but in my opinion wrong) Popular Opinions:
The earth is flat;
The earth is the center of the universe, and the sun revolves about the earth;
Wives are the property of their husbands;
Cigarette smoke is harmless;
You can't grow without eating meat.

A sample of rather new (but in my opinion wrong) Popular Opinions:
If a person is skinny, they are therefore healthy (or at least healthier than someone who is not as skinny);
Jersey Shore is good TV;
Global Warming is the fault of human beings;
Level of education is a direct measure of a person's intelligence.

As we see, just because an opinion is popular at any given time, it is not necessarily true.

The other message in this quote is interesting to me as well: some of the most annoying people I've ever met (besides myself) are those who have opinions about everything, and ESPECIALLY about things that they've got little or no knowledge of. I think that we've all known someone like this.

One particular dolt that I worked with once was quite the epitome of this sort of person. At his height, he spent a couple of hours giving me pointers on parenting how to's and what to not do, what I had been doing wrong, and why parenting seems so hard but is really easy (it's the parents themselves that make it hard) and on and on and on. Of course, he had no kids at all, and I had four (at that time, my oldest was early teens).

The stronger a person's opinion, the more it seems like they've got a dearth of actual information.

One thing that I found really interesting with respect to this quote is that I've got no idea who Bethania McKenstry is (or was). Internet searches on her name bring up pretty much nothing other than this particular quote. It's like this lady ONCE said something that was worth capturing and repeating, and never said anything of value again. Very odd.

Thanks to those of you who participated in my little poll; hopefully we can do it all again sometime!


  1. I was outvoted, but certainly recognise a lot of truth in this quote. Thanks.

  2. Huh, interesting. So you mean Earth is not flat, and smoking is bad for you? Great. Always the last to know.

  3. There is always someone out there who knows more than you do, even if they don't.
    Have you explored "Quote Garden"?

  4. oh yes...Bethania McKenstry
    Frank Clark, cartoonist, "The Country Parson" was born in Elkhart on Oct. 10, 1911, the son of Ralph Atherton Clark, a banker who later sold insurance, and Bethania McKinstry Clark, who died in 1917. The senior Clark remarried, and his second wife, Elizabeth, brought up Frank and his brother, Tom, who was one year older.
    So there you go..she had the distinction of being Frank Clarks mother.

  5. "There is always someone out there who knows more than you do."

    One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my father was that everybody you meet, no matter how stupid or mean or what have you, knows something you don't.

    The trouble is, you never know whether or not you care until you find out what that something is.

  6. Believe it or not, sometimes I get into trouble for assuming people know more than I do! Mat, your father was a very wise man!

    Thanks for the Garden link Delores; it's new to me!

    Welcome, Nellie, and just for the record, I always figure that afe
    Ter I learn something new, I can go home. I try to learn something by 9:00 am every day!

  7. Not necessarily MORE, just something of which you are unaware.

    Speaking of assuming that someone else knows something ...After knowing me for 30+ years, I'm going to assume the missing T was a poke at me and intentional.

  8. Gag! No... It's me missing my virtual buttons in my iPad!

    Sorry. But you're right about "more" vs. just something you didn't know. Good catch.