SBIC – pronounced “ess-bick” – stands for “Smartest Boy In Class”. SBICs are very common in the technical community, particularly in online communities; Slashdot is Mecca for SBICs. The typical SBIC is a tech worker, sometimes a developer but more often a sysadmin or support type. Frequent exposure to people who seem stupid or ignorant reinforces SBIC attitudes and behavior; frequent encounters with smarter or more experienced people tend to cure the disease. The central belief set of SBICs can be summed up as follows:

I am smarter than everyone else. If I can’t solve a problem, nobody can; anybody who claims to’ve found such a solution is a liar. Since I can understand any fact quickly, anything I can’t understand quickly is not a fact.

An example of how this attitude plays out is as follows:

  1. Somebody proposes a project to an SBIC.
  2. The SBIC notices some problem with how the project handles XXX.
  3. The SBIC spends a few minutes trying to solve the problem, and doesn’t come up with anything.
  4. According to the belief set described above, the SBIC therefore decides that no solution is possible.
  5. The SBIC infers that the project is doomed to failure, and is therefore a waste of time.
  6. The SBIC tries to “do everyone a favor” and keep them from wasting time, by criticizing and opposing the project.
  7. The SBIC won’t shut up about “the XXX problem” until a comprehensive solution is explained to him in excruciating detail.
  8. Meanwhile, work on every aspect of the project other than “the XXX problem” comes to a standstill.
  9. If XXX was a secondary or expendable feature, the SBIC’s prediction of doom becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A slight variation of the above occurs when the SBIC sees a problem X, devises a solution Y which introduces problem Z, and then starts complaining about how the project has problem Z. It is not in the SBIC nature to consider the possibility that solutions other than Y exist. To them, Y and Z follow inevitably from X.

There’s another part of the SBIC mindset that provides a solution (yes, I realize there might be others) to dealing with them. It goes like this:

Because I’m so smart, my perspective and priorities are important, and you should place a high priority on addressing them.

Well…no. You’re not, they’re not, and I don’t feel like it. Fly away before you get swatted.