Sunday, October 07, 2007


What is the most appealing characteristic in a person? For me, amongst the things you can discover at first sight (so, it obviously rules out characteristics like honesty), confidence is the most appealing. I'm sure it is the same for many other people. But here is the question...why?

Let me admit at the outset that I don't know. Maybe because it conveys a sense of fearlessness. Maybe because confident people appear intelligent - particularly in one-on-one interactions. In general, confident people are also usually more convincing. Imagine if Winston Churchill, instead of saying "We'll fight them on the beaches, we'll fight them in France..." had said "'ll try and fight them on the, try and fight them in" - would it have had the same electrifying effect on the Britons? Confident people do have a reassuring halo around them...

Interviews are an instance. Except for some utterly obnoxious candidates (my former co-interviewers will testify to having seen many such) who simply cannot backup their confidence, confident candidates do get away with an awful lot.

Coffee table discussions are an other. Time and again, I've been flummoxed by engineers who spoke total B.S, but spoke it with such confidence that my time-tested knowledge (of a very few things) just gave up! Recently, I got into an argument with a colleague about Java v/s C++ performance. As long as we were discussing, he almost had me believe that Java memory management is better performing than that of C++. It took me two reads of his source, a read of the programs mentioned by the source, a few tests, and another paper reading to re-realize what I knew all along - that his source was bunkum.

The point I'm trying to make is the importance of knowing that confidence does not come only from being right. It also comes from not knowing that you're wrong.

A lesson I learn everyday.
(Postscript: While on this topic, I'm one of those guys who thinks that Java can never beat C/C++ in a fair test, but one who also believes that a fair test isn't really possible. We'll always end up comparing apples and oranges. Java has a lot going for it, and it should just leave the performance bit to the Cexperts.)


kattricker said...

i think java memory management *is* better than C++!! coz C++ does not have memory management!! its in the hands of the implementor, unless of course the OS can help manage it. boy, i love it when i confidently say it!! ;)

Gops said...

LoL, Karthi.

Yes, I agree - Java mem mgmt is _better_ in some ways. Efficiency is unfortunately, not one of them. I said "better performing" - not "better". How can something that predicts what you are doing do a better job than you who is doing it?

Like I said, you are confidently saying it, but you read me wrong!!! :)