Inspired by a comment exchange in Linguaphiles & Sesquipedalians I realized that the nature of the sensation of others being pretentious is a feeling that the other's theory matches up so poorly with reality that the poorness of the match is beyond a certain critical threshold.

Really, it seemed to fit. My first experiences with pretentiousness in others was with fictional character that had ridiculous interpretations of pieces of also fictional art. They, along with the pretentious people that I've encountered in real life, gave me the same sensation, and they both seemed to push reality away: The fictional art freaks would push away the fact that that piece of abstract art at which they were looking is devoid of meaning and that they didn't know at all what it meant. The IRL pretentious, in the case of creationists, for example, pushed away and hid from at every turn the fact that they don't know.

So what do you, the reader, think of this? Place your reactions to the headline first.

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Ah pretension.

Am I assuming too much that you are either currently enrolled in or have been previously enrolled in college? This is where I have encountered some of the most high grade pretension in all my years.


To me, you don't necessarily need to engage in self deception to be pretentious. It stems mainly from the sense of superiority or moral righteousness possessed by individuals who are so utterly convinced of their brilliance that they have stopped questioning themselves and feel compelled to bring the TRUTH to the rest of us mental midgets. They are perfectly oblivious to how stupid they sound and are usually holier/more open/more experienced/more intelligent/ than thou. Some of the best pretension can be found among individuals who rigidly adhere to philosophies that are very internally consistent but can not assimilate new information or data. Fundies, Revolutionaries, Randroids, and people who fixate on the "liberation" of one or more social demographics as the solution to social ills, usually fall into this category.


Usually, the party guilty of pretension is of above average intelligence and not naturally prone to dogmatic thinking, but still naive enough to be unaware of how ignorant they still are. I think this is where the "arrogant atheist" stereotype comes from. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that Theistic or Magical thinking is not simply a failure of reason or intellect but a highly complex and personal result of many different factors that the outside observer is not privy to.
It seems to me that some pretension is a way of trying to impress someone. The art lover is trying to sound (or be) superior. The religious are being pious, or holier than thou, or perhaps they are scared of seeking the truth (or prohibited from doing so).

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