“Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
– Matthew 7:6
“Wizard’s First Rule: people are stupid.” Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
—Chapter 36, p.560, Wizard’s First Rule
I’ve not grown weak as I age, I’d prefer to think I’ve gained wisdom. The only way to get better insight is to have some bad insight. Then rather than complaining about the results as good or bad, you realize you are successful at producing outcomes. What you do with those outcomes is up to you. If you make a change and try again, you are far ahead of the curve.
Arguing with idiots is somewhat of a sport on the internet and social media. It’s equivalent to a Town Square. Through observation, understanding and actually changing my way of thinking, it gets down to this. There is comfort in being stupid for many people. Willingness to learn new things and be proven wrong is scary. You get challenged. It’s like being a fast gun in the Old West. There is always someone younger and faster riding into town. How do we figure out who the idiots are? Here are some indicators.
1. They adhere to a school of thought, political party, religious group, conspiracy theory, dietary science, training method, vocation, etc.
2. They really don’t understand the concept of evidence. [More on this later]
3. The soak their being in the use of Logical Fallacy.
4. They are typically followers and not leaders. Free speech and free thought is not all rainbows and unicorns.
Rather than target any group or just stupid people in general, I’d like to elaborate on points 2 and 3.
The concept of evidence is a weighty subject and I’m far, far, from an expert. There are different types of evidence from good to bad. For example, there is LOTS of evidence for the Easter Bunny. However it’s poor evidence. The most sensational and emotional type of evidence is anecdote or personal testimony. In other words, if you say it, it’s real. “An alien spacecraft passed over my car,” is an example of this. Sensational but worthless. It doesn’t matter who said it. Oddly, this model is the most powerful one in advertising.
Another type of evidence is “correlation to causation”. For example people falsely attribute the increased use of high fructose corn syrup to the increase on obesity. There is an increase in smart phone use, reality TV and hybrid cars. Why aren’t these attributed to obesity? It’s the same idea. It sounds compelling and dramatic but it’s hardly science. Think of Jenny McCarthy and vaccines. We are aware how more versed she is in molecular biology than Jonas Salk.
“Facts won’t change beliefs.” – Lyle McDonald
With poor evidence such as this people rely on “Logical Fallacies” to leverage opinion and persuade followers. There are many logical fallacies, but here are the most common ones.
The key of course is to invest in discussion with those who are interested. They may not agree with you, but they ask for your input. To simply draw the masses into meaningless discussions is a waste of energy. Nothing to gain and a lot to lose. When you argue evidence versus faith, you end up in a Red Queen’s Paradox. One side fortifying their point with logic and evidence, the other with fallacy and belief. Fundamentally, nothing will ever be resolved.
The people who need the information will not only ask specific, honest, questions,.. they will actually force growth by inquiring with energy that causes you to stretch. The stupid people will repeat the same tired doctrine. At some point in your development it will be come apparent. The problem though, is like Al Pacino in Godfather 3,.. they keep pulling you back in.
So fight the good fight. Ignore the stupid, educate the willing,.. forget the rest. You can’t fix it.
In light of the tragic terrorism in Boston it’s hard to think there will be 9/11 Truthers claiming an inside job. Yes. People are stupid. The following list is just a wonderful collection of flawed thinking. Read it and see how many you can apply to people you know.
“You can’t fix stupid.” – Ron White