I've blogged about my theory that you can appear to be an expert, at least to non-experts, on any topic for which you know the twelve basic concepts. Someone suggested I write a book with lots of topics and their twelve concepts. I like that idea except you would need about a hundred topics to make it work. I could only come up with 25 topics. What other subjects would you want to know at twelve concepts about? Or to put it another way, what topics do you wish OTHER people understood better?





Business Writing



Job Interview


Social Interaction





Human Nature






Buying a car



Energy conservation

Building your own home

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +6
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Apr 2, 2009
and Rocket Science
Apr 2, 2009
Brain surgery
Apr 2, 2009
The things I can do that I think have really mattered

Being able to speak in public
Think through a process - including risks AND opportunities (most people seem to be only able to focus on one)
Basic grammar and spelling - poor language skills a bad impression and can cause complete confusion.
Know when to shut up, but also when to stand up for yourself
Basic sales and marketing skills
Build and light a fire without chemical firelighters - especially if you're a girl
Basic self-defense moves - especially if you're a girl
Hit, kick, throw and catch a ball.
A sense of good design - be able to recognise good style, colour and composition when you see it
Know the basics of how your body works - so you can separate common sense from sales spiel.

The things I WISH I could do that have really mattered.

Know how to listen, or at least how to appear to be listening. (the only skill required for successful dating/marriage as far as I'm concerned)
Patience with people who are really dumb, stutter, are arrogant or misinformed. (...but senior than you, related to you or related to someone you really like)
Use my cell phone. I can do advanced programming in C but it takes me half an hour to write a 6 word SMS.
Arrange flowers.
Balance - I can't roller skate, ski or ride bike. that's just sad.
Appreciate music.
Drive really well.

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
I am sure people have listed a great many useful topics by now, but maybe I missed something in your plea for ideas. It seems to me that if you devoted about a page to explain what each concept or rule is for each category, 25 categories results in a 300 page book. It certainly wouldn't cover everything useful, but it's a good start.
Apr 2, 2009
Responsible dog ownership. People who love dogs and hate dogs would appreciate this one!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
how about:
body language reading,
movie appreciation,
music appreciation,
art/painting/sculpture appreciation
literary appreciation,
anger/temper management!
fuel consumption
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
just chipping in to say i'll prolly buy a book like that, if only for a amusing quick trip thru knowledge of various topics.
so keep at it, there's a market :P
Apr 2, 2009
Game Design
Home Decoration
Running for Office
Travel/Internet shopping
How to "spin" (politics, PR, etc..)

Apr 2, 2009
History topics: U.S. war of independence; Napoleanic wars; U.S. civil war; ww I; great depression; ww II; civil rights movement; ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc.; European colonization of Africa, India, the Americas, etc. Tons of stuff there. History of Ideas - science, philosophy, religion, etc.
Apr 2, 2009
Basic spelling & grammar rules

e.g.: your vs. you're
their vs. they're vs. there
accept vs. except

punctuation & capitalization


also - basics of email - "netiquette"
Apr 2, 2009
I'd like to learn about -- Handling Criticism.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
I'd have to say "12 basic concepts" is probably nine too many unless the purpose is to deliberately deceive someone into thinking you are an expert, i.e. you are trying to get a job you are not qualified for.

But if the point is to be able to make chit-chat, do you really need to know 12 things in order to have a meaningful conversation? If that's what you're looking to do, I think it would be better to know three basic concepts about 12 subjects than 12 basic concepts about three subjects.
Apr 2, 2009
weight loss
organizing closets
wilderness survival
public speaking
Apr 2, 2009
Politics - voting

+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
The heavy lifting of topic selection has already been done. Search Amazon or your local big box book store for the most popular "<subject> for Dummies" titles.
Apr 2, 2009
Politics and government.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 2, 2009
In my personal experience (coming from europe) everybody immediately thinks you're smart and knowledgeable if you know some non-cliché things about their country. So basically, add a whole bundle of (obscure) countries to your list and you can immediately make an impression.
Apr 2, 2009
As an engineering student, I'm inclined to add a few more technical things:
The Internet
Also, I second sports.
I'll add, as well:
Or you could just combine those three into a "Pop Culture" category.
Since you're a cartoonist, I think you should also include something to that effect,
Newspaper Comics
Apr 2, 2009
Blue-collar work tends to be beyond the comprehension of most engineers. Things like electrical wiring, framing, welding, plumbing. Things beyond my comprehension are things like fashion, interior decorating, color coordination. Something that I can't explain to save my life but is an extremely useful skill is finding what I'm looking for with internet search engines. If I could put that into 12 rules I could save the cheerleader, and then the world!
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog