The Art of Being Obnoxious


There is an art to being obnoxious. Some of us are naturally obnoxious, but even the naturally charming can learn to be obnoxious. Here are some tips:

  1. Belittle as pseudoscientific anybody who believes in any form of alternative medicine. Let’s say your friend George sees an acupuncturist for his back problems. Point out large double blind studies that have shown fake acupuncture to be as effective as real acupuncture. When George Says, “Yes, but it has really helped me,” raise the issue of the placebo effect, noting that it works only on the ignorant, and now that you’ve told him about the studies debunking acupuncture, he isn’t ignorant anymore. He will probably insist that traditional Chinese medicine somehow isn’t amenable to Western scientific investigation. Raise you eyebrows and say, “If you say so, George.” Later you can cite statistics on the appallingly low level of scientific literacy these days. Flood his email in-box with anti-alternative medicine material. The web site QuackWatch is a fabulous source.
  2. Imply that others’ preferences are a waste of money because they’re based on ignorance. Georgina mentions that she just bought some organic apples. Tell her that there is no evidence that organic produce is healthier, safer, or tastes better, and organic farming isn’t sustainable. She may cite some counter evidence or she may just say she doesn’t believe it. Let it drop, but later flood her email in-box with articles debunking the organic movement. There are many videos of people not being able to tell the difference between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables in blind taste tests.
  3. Assuming that most of your friends are liberals, make it known that you believe GMOs are perfectly safe and shouldn’t be labeled. They will be appalled, I guarantee it. Note that the scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs is greater than it is on climate change and either say or strongly imply that anti-GMO activists on the left are the equivalent of climate change deniers of the right. With any luck, someone will bring up Indian anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva, the patron saint of the anti-GMO movement. Say boldly that Vandana Shiva is a quack and a bullshit artist. Promise to send them material on Vandana Shiva. There is abundant material out there exposing her as a complete fraud. Flood their email in-boxes with it.
  4. There is mounting evidence that wine tasting is mostly nonsense and even so-called wine experts—sommeliers—can be consistently fooled. In many blind taste tests, cheap plonk has won over very expensive stuff. Read up on this and bring it up at any dinner party where supposedly very good wine is served. If anybody wants references, which is unlikely, you can provide plenty by email, which you will do even if they don’t request it.
  5. These days, nearly every social gathering that serves food offers some gluten-free choices. The gluten-free fad is one of the looniest ever to spread among educated elites. Less than one percent of the American population has celiac disease, but nearly thirty percent of American adults are now trying to avoid gluten. There are many reputable medical sites out there debunking gluten-free as utter lunacy. Master some of that material and bring it up at the gluten-free section of the food table. Again, promise follow up in those email in-boxes.
  6. Juicing, coffee enemas, vagina steaming–these are all wacko fads promoted by actress and notorious crackpot Gwyneth Paltrow. There is a great book called Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything by Timothy Caulfield that nicely debunks all this nonsense. At least read some reviews of the book and interviews with Caulfield. If you’re lucky enough to run into a juicer or vagina steamer, the obnoxious putdowns you can generate are truly legion. Caulfield has also written widely about alternative medicine and is a great source of information that can be emailed to anybody who regularly visits a naturopath.

Being obnoxious about others’ cherished beliefs is great fun. I have concentrated here on beliefs prevalent on the liberal left.  American right wingers have political and religious views that should be wonderful targets for obnoxious putdowns, but they won’t understand a critique of their views that goes much beyond simple mocking. Flooding their email-in-boxes with lengthy reading material is also a waste of time, unless you have stock in lip balms.

I have tested all of these techniques on Facebook. At one Point I realized that most of my intended targets were blocking my posts, so I deactivated my account, but I am being very effectively obnoxious at dinner parties and other social gatherings. By the time I stop getting invited, I will reactivate the FB account.

3 thoughts on “The Art of Being Obnoxious

  1. Thanks for the Sunday morning chuckle, Alan! I have fond memories of your Facebook rampage, but I never blocked you because most of the time I had the same opinions. Also you mentioned that you were a contrarian at heart, so I showed you mercy… Your writing is much appreciated and I have learned things from your articles that I never thought I would. I’m not sure what that makes me, but I’m not just trying to suck up… I must say that that my mind is a bit boggled at vagina steaming (my spellcheck at first corrected this to “vegetable steaming”!). That’s a new one for me. I a now pondering what else can be steamed… Looking forward to your return to Facebook!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your title begs a sub-title, Alan:

    “The Art of Being Obnoxious: From the keypad of an Expert!”


    Liked by 1 person

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