The problem with choosing who you listen to and ultimately trust or at least take advice from is tricky not just in the domaining industry but in any other business.
Among other things, I’m also a marketer.
As a marketer, I’ve had enough exposure to human behavior to identify the following problem.
Let’s assume Joe wants domaining advice and has to choose between two people:
A) an ultra-charismatic person who is confident, articulate but full of BS… however, he’s able to say this BS in a pseudo-scientific manner that seems “smart” to the untrained ear
B) someone who’s really good at domaining but kind of weird, not a great speaker, not that confident in himself and so on… when you listen to him, he just comes across as “meh”
While I haven’t conducted a robust study myself, what worries me is that based on what I’ve noticed so far, people tend to just go with their first impression-driven instinct of choosing the first person, the charismatic one who looks the part, talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.
This is a huge, huge problem on the Internet.
Why? Simply because due to the halo effect kicking in, a person that leaves a good impression is a lot more likely to garner a following and influence others. As such, it becomes a systemic issue.
You then have an army of highly charismatic BS artists who “pollute” the Internet when it comes to any imaginable dimension, with loyal trigger-happy and triggered followers who spread the word.
As the Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman points out, our brains are remarkably good at painting believable pictures based on the WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) principle…
“Look at this guy, he’s so well-dressed!”
“Oh, he’s also well-spoken”
“… and SO confident in what he’s saying!”
“… THEREFORE, he must be so darn competent, the best of the best for sure!”
… of course, if the critical thinking dimension of who we are (System 2, as Kahneman and others call it) kicks in and we start digging beneath the surface, fact-checking his statements and so on, then sure, we’ll understand he was full of BS.
But System 2 is so darn lazy… evolutionary, it’s been “trained” not to kick in unless it really has to because otherwise, it would take us ages to make even the smallest decision… paralysis by analysis.
So while there’s a pretty convincing evolutionary explanation of this status quo (our tendency to surround the first person with an aura of competence), it has all sorts of negative consequences in today’s complex world.
While I don’t have a systemic solution, I guess the best we can do is be aware of our shortcomings and try to fight toxic instincts, biases and what not. Good luck with that 🙂