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No IT Education:  "The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome



"The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome is that computer defaults always work -- or the product won't sell -- so it seems to the user, and any IT incompetent watching her, that she must be a genius. This starts with IT incompetent adults being so amazed that children, often their own, can use computers that they hail these children as geniuses ("any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"), even though the software they are using was programmed, which includes defaults, so even children can use it, i.e. it's foolproof.

For example, so that anyone can set it up, and thus anyone will buy it, networking hardware (e.g. routers) and software (e.g. web and email servers) are plug and play and require no IT competence. All the defaults are set (programmed) by the manufacturer to make them work immediately, whether these defaults are secure or not; usually not, because that would prevent them from being plug and play (for example, for years routers came with no passwords or widely-known passwords).

The user then gets the thrilling false sense of being an IT expert because he/she could install it and have it work immediately. Sometimes that person will then even do this for relatives and friends who are even more IT incompetent or go into business doing this ("in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king"). The "script kiddies" of Why Stop IT Incompetence? Data Breaches think they are "black hat hacker Einsteins".

The difference between an expert and someone who just seems like he knows what he is doing, is that the expert knows why he is doing what he is doing. When something goes wrong, i.e. the defaults don't work, only the expert will be able to fix it because he knows why it has gone wrong, especially in IT security. Particularly in IT, society has become a "cargo cult", doing things because it has seen them done that way but not understanding why, much like chimpanzees; see No IT Education: "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome and No IT Education: Cargo Cult.

The defaults always working is why it is so dangerous to hire IT incompetents (see ahead) -- they will look like they know what they are doing right up until there is a disaster, like a data breach.

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