The Topography of Mount Stupid

I introduced the concept of Mount Stupid as a general warning against overconfidence in my first post. What many don’t realize is that the mountain is three dimensional, and the third axis is audience size.

The Cliff of No Return, source: me.

If you have a hard time visualizing this, just imagine that the The Cliff is on the backside of Mt. Stupid and the knowledge axis is coming out of the page at you.

Original Mount Stupid cartoon, source: SMBC.

Ok, now that we have our spatial visualization exercises out of the way for the day, on to the point. As you can see, traveling along the audience size axis without the requisite knowledge is treacherous. Without sufficient knowledge of a subject, a person might plummet to silence when their audience gets large enough. Given that the potential audience for a blogger is everyone, forever, why risk nearing the edge of that cliff?

Other downsides

In addition to The Cliff, there are a few other downsides to blogging I would like to mention.

  • Publicly stating an opinion can lead to motivated reasoning when new contradicting evidence is revealed. A person may feel compelled to defend their past writing, rather than accept the new evidence and change their views.
  • Writing is time consuming. I mean, I just spent half an hour creating a cartoon for this post.

The benefits

There clearly are potential costs from blogging, but what are the benefits?

  • You can learn from other smart people if they comment on your writing.
  • You can communicate your ideas to others and influence their thinking.
  • Writing can help clarify your thoughts, and the public nature of blogging pressures you not to think lazily.
  • You look smart if you write quality content.

The Balance

Many have decided that the world has more to gain from their writing than they could lose from being wrong in an embarrassingly public manner. For now, I have decided the same, but I might revisit this decision in the future.