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33. Personal Character > 33.4. Intellectual Honesty

Intellectual Honesty

Part of maturing as a programming professional is developing an uncompromising sense of intellectual honesty. Intellectual honesty commonly manifests itself in several ways:

  • Refusing to pretend you're an expert when you're not

  • Readily admitting your mistakes

  • Trying to understand a compiler warning rather than suppressing the message

  • Clearly understanding your program—not compiling it to see if it works

  • Providing realistic status reports

  • Providing realistic schedule estimates and holding your ground when management asks you to adjust them

The first two items on this list—admitting that you don't know something or that you made a mistake—echo the theme of intellectual humility discussed earlier. How can you learn anything new if you pretend that you know everything already? You'd be better off pretending that you don't know anything. Listen to people's explanations, learn something new from them, and assess whether they know what they are talking about.


  

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