Wednesday, May 7, 2008


"Most people would die sooner than think - in fact they do so." - Bertrand Russell

It's kind of funny that I overlook something like this and just accept it as a fact of life, but as George Carlin eloquently points out, some people are really fucking stupid. The evidence is everywhere, but why do we put up with it? Why do we close our eyes to such things as astronomically stupid as Youtube comments, George W Bush, brain-dead information ministers, religious fundamentalists, Scientology, Ben Stein, Ann Coulter... the list goes on and on and it's... amazing! It's like getting an X-ray and finding out you've been living with a tumour the size of a turnip in your head!

I mean, don't get me wrong, I like stupid people in moderation. They make me laugh! But isn't it a wee bit dangerous to have so many of them around? Why do they exist? Why is society so goddamn tolerant of people who shit in the human gene and meme pool? Why are these people not Darwin Award winners?

Just today a friend of mine showed me this. If you can't be arsed to click the link, it's a paper from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showing an inverse relation between one's sense of self-worth and one's cognitive ability. Simply put, the dumber you are, the more highly you're likely to think of yourself. No doubt my esteemed readers have made this observation for themselves, but I just found it humourous and informative to see concrete evidence of that fact confirming that it's not just something about the idiots in my life in particular - it's a universal idiot trait.

Come to think of it, that is the crux of the problem, isn't it? I mean, when you think about stupidity memetically. Here's another gem from my favourite philosopher:

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."

Those who live by science and reason have a Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads every minute of their lives - the knowledge that any of their beliefs could well be false and superceded by new findings. Through constant critical analysis, ideas are forged and our understanding of the universe becomes ever stronger as we build knowledge upon knowledge.

The trouble is, this takes time. And effort. Lots of it.

Idiots aren't quite so rigorous with their ideas (which is to say, their delusional bullshit). They just disseminate whatever the hell sounds good to them. Bear in mind I'm not referring to honest mistakes and the like - I'm talking serious, wilful bullshit, examples of which were given above. The Selfish Gene pointed out 3 things that mark a successful gene, and Meme Machine showed them to be perfectly compatible with memes, in this case the memes for behaviour that can be considered stupid. They are:

1) Fidelity - Stupidity is easy to imitate. Nuff said.
2) Fecundity - Idiots aren't shy about it and are very quick indeed to visit their stupidity on others.
3) Longevity - Idiots, having settled into a life of stupidity, become quite resistant to external threats, such as Reason.

As such, I am forced to come to the very disheartening conclusion that these charming specimens are here to stay. Guess the rest of us might as well enjoy the ride as much as we can...

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