Knowing what you don’t know

It might seem like an oxymoron but I believe knowing what you don’t know is an important skill, and if it requires explanation here it is. No one can know everything, it is simply not possible. But being aware of subjects in which you have no experience or knowledge is a useful awareness to have, because if you go opening your mouth to express an extreme opinion about a subject and suddenly remember “Oh thats right, I don’t actually have an experience with this subject… perhaps I should ask some questions, do some research, then do some thinking.. and maybe then start to create an informed opinion…”

A friend who worked at an Arts school told me about a contemporary technique called ‘de-skilling’ and in this seeming age of fake news and the dismissal of expert advice as though it is some form of unwelcome elitism, maybe just maybe it is symptomatic of a far deeper issue, with an old name: insecurity.

We’ve all met people who seem to be all bluster, with not much to support the apparent strongly held opinions, which are often presented as facts… And here are a couple of very recent examples that made me facepalm – one film sound related & the other political…

Facepalm #1

Read that statement again:

I don’t think the film industry understands the point of surround sound

Good grief…
As if he hasn’t already discredited himself from any sense of the limits of his knowledge, he then proceeds to dictate how film is supposed to be mixed. I could go on for an hour about how many ways his thinking is flawed (eg just for a start WTF is he ripping from and with? Does he have any idea whatsoever as to how a film mix occurs? How many hundreds & thousands of elements are carefully localised & panned? And that there are no set of rules, there may be generalised guidelines but every film is unique AND every scene & moment within each film is unique etc etc) Whats that saying about knowing just enough to be dangerous? As I said… Good grief!




Facepalm #2

As I mentioned NZ is now 2 weeks from an election and we have just had the third leaders debate. The first two debates were broadcast on TV and the third was hosted by a media company and was only available via streaming (their own site + Youtube + Facebook)
From the first moment of the start of the third debate it was very very obvious audio was compromised. They were using radio mics on the two leaders & the host, and the mics for both the MC/host and the incumbant Prime Minister Bill English sounded fine – very similar in quality & level to the well presented TV debates. But the leader of the opposition, Jacinda Aderns mic sounded dreadful. If you have ever worked on production dialogue you will know the tonality of a badly placed lavalier. Jacinda sounded thin & reedy, which combined with her being a woman & her voice being naturally more present in mid/higher frequencies made her voice sound whiny & harsh. I cringed when I heard it & when others online commented to ‘fix her levels’ I commented it was not just levels, it was mic placement.
When they stopped for a break mid way, the MC acknowledged they had an audio problem which they would resolve. They switched to using fixed mics on the lanterns and the MC rightly insisted on a quick mic check to verify the problem was solved. Both the debaters said a few words, it was deemed ok & the debate continued… or did it?

In my opinion Matthew Hooton is a well know National Party lobbyist, who masquerades as an impartial political commentator. And in an apparent moment of desperation he gave birth to a political conspiracy involving the technical crew managing the debate. Again the facepalm – how could anyone not have noticed the appalling audio that Jacinda Adern gracefully suffered for the first 20 minutes of debating? And to not acknowledge it, but to then announce some vast left wing audio conspiracy after the earlier problem was publicly acknowledged & addressed is about as absurd as it is laughable. But what it actually reveals is more interesting: Bias.





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