Rants In Our Pants

New Study Explains Michael Arrington

Some new research offers a scientific explanation of the man behind TechCrunch. Indirectly, anyway.

By (@JRRaphael)

June 10, 2009

Michael ArringtonMichael Arrington isn’t exactly known for being down to earth. Just do a Google search for “michael arrington arrogant” and peruse through the 5,000+ results, or visit this site. The main man behind TechCrunch has made a name for himself with his cocky, confident, and often condescending style. Yet, despite his site’s reputation for getting things wrong (see: “Get the Tech Scuttlebutt! (It Might Even Be True)”; “TechCrunch Are Full of Shit”; “Company Note: Wrong on All Counts”; TechCrunch May Not Have All the Facts”; “Sorry to Get You All A-Twitter, but Google Is Not in ‘Late-Stage Talks’ to Acquire the Hot Microblogging Service”), Arrington and company continue to thrive and be taken seriously as sources of tech information.

This unusual phenomenon has long mystified many. Now, thanks to the world of science, we finally have an explanation.

Michael Arrington Explained

Our answer comes from a Carnegie Mellon study profiled in New Scientist this week. The story’s headline pretty much sums it up: “Humans Prefer Cockiness to Expertise.” A quick excerpt:

“Ever wondered why the pundits who failed to predict the current economic crisis are still being paid for their opinions? … The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record.”

The “ahah!” moments don’t stop there, though: The study goes on to suggest that a competitive playing field only serves to encourage the pattern. Delivering tech news, of course, is nothing if not competitive.

“This [competition] can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are,” New Scientist explains.

Future research may focus on how excessive arrogance can consistently alienate one’s peers without necessarily pissing off the general public.

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