Every few days there is a new question here at Cognitive Sciences asking for a scientific term to describe a behavior that the inquirer finds fault with.

Examples include:

Reading this type of question, I often get the impression that the person asking them is affronted that the person they describe in obsessive detail did not agree with their view or follow their advice, and now want to regain their sense of self-importance by pathologizing the other. It seems to me that many, if not most, of these questions are not based on facts but on the egomaniacal deslusion of knowing better.

For example (using the first question above):

  • How does the inquirer know that the person moving to a new field is not an expert in it? Is he himself expert enough to judge the other's expertise? It is a well-known fact that even experts often disagree so violently that they accuse each other of complete ignorance. So how can the average cogsci.SE passer-by competently judge anyone's expertise or lack thereof?

You'll be easily able to find similar objections to all other questions.

So what is the name for that affliction?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I trust the irony of your question is intentional :) Irony aside, if you're really looking for an answer, I'm thinking it might lie somewhere among "patronage/condescension", "intellectualization", and "stereotyping". If you're not, maybe this ought to be a meta-question. $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2014 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ @NickStauner Is there a name for people who do not perceive the irony of what they are doing / asking? (pinch) (Oww!) $\endgroup$
    – user9634
    Feb 8, 2017 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Haha this is funny $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2017 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ Narcissist. I had an aunt who was very negative about everything and everyone! I was also thinking cynic is a fitting answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2017 at 5:28

1 Answer 1


I personally, but explicitly do not support the teachings of Freud, but this sounds like what Freud would call "Intellectualization." This is supposedly a defense mechanism.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Please explain. I have no idea what Freud meant with that term and therefore don't understand your answer. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Nov 18, 2014 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ Could you provide a source for your terminology? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jun 21, 2017 at 6:45

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