Stupidity and How to Recognize It (UPDATED)

Readability

Stupidity and How to Recognize It (UPDATED)

by baldilocks

Many, many peo­ple have won­dered whether the Inter­net has made peo­ple more stu­pid than was so in gen­er­a­tions prior to the Inter­net Age and I’ve won­dered about this also. I still think that the answer is both ‘no’ and ‘yes.’

No: In the Inter­net Age, we not only have access to more infor­ma­tion, but also access to a greater amount of peo­ple, and there­fore, access to a greater amount of stu­pid peo­ple. They were always there; you just have aware­ness of more of them.

Yes: Many mis­take large amounts of infor­ma­tion for large amounts of intel­li­gence and the Inter­net has pro­vided many stu­pid peo­ple with the illu­sion of intel­li­gence. Be advised: stu­pid­ity is not defined as lim­ited intel­li­gence. Stu­pid­ity con­sists of the lim­ited abil­ity to inter­pret infor­ma­tion, cou­pled with the refusal to acknowl­edge the need for this abil­ity. Ever known an idiot who was full of hubris and arro­gance about some infor­ma­tion she has that you don’t have?

Thus, a stu­pid per­son is the inverse exam­ple of Harry Callahan’s time­less axiom.

In action, this state of affairs is demon­strated by a false dichotomy I’ve seen all over the place, includ­ing at the obvi­ous place: why do non-​Muslim observers judge Islam for what some Mus­lims do, but do not judge Chris­tian­ity for what some Chris­tians do?

A vari­a­tion of that ques­tion was repeated yes­ter­day. Here was my answer.

Both Chris­tians and Mus­lims have indi­vid­ual standard-​bearers. The standard-​bearer for Chris­tians: Jesus of Nazareth. The standard-​bearer for Mus­lims: Mohammed.

When observers attempt to deter­mine whether self-​described Chris­tians or Mus­lims are true believ­ers in their respec­tive faiths and are act­ing as such, the log­i­cal thing do is to mea­sure the words and/​or actions against the teach­ings of the appro­pri­ate standard-​bearer and, then, come to a cogent con­clu­sion [about the doc­trine in question].

From the sub­se­quent part of our con­ver­sa­tion, the inquirer had no under­stand­ing of stan­dards or standard-​bearers and wasn’t inclined to con­sider the def­i­n­i­tions and impli­ca­tions of either. We all know he’s not alone. How­ever, he did seem proud of the amount of infor­ma­tion he was able to call forth about the Bible. There, he had me. But the Devil is able to quote scrip­ture bet­ter than any of us, so that’s a con­test I don’t care about. (And, yes, I can see it now: “she called that man the Devil because he dis­agreed with her.” To infer that would fall under the stu­pid­ity umbrella which I described earlier.)

I pre­dict that we will see more of this, since stu­pid­ity is eas­ier than inter­pre­ta­tion and the stu­pid are prone to tak­ing any route which makes them appear to be intel­li­gent – even if that route ulti­mately leads to their demise.

UPDATE: Fredo unbound.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel, ten­ta­tively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Fol­low her on Twit­ter.

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism — -»»baldilocks

by baldilocks

Many, many people have wondered whether the Internet has made people more stupid than was so in generations prior to the Internet Age and I’ve wondered about this also. I still think that the answer is both ‘no’ and ‘yes.’

No: In the Internet Age, we not only have access to more information, but also access to a greater amount of people, and therefore, access to a greater amount of stupid people. They were always there; you just have awareness of more of them.

Yes: Many mistake large amounts of information for large amounts of intelligence and the Internet has provided many stupid people with the illusion of intelligence. Be advised: stupidity is not defined as limited intelligence. Stupidity consists of the limited ability to interpret information, coupled with the refusal to acknowledge the need for this ability.  Ever known an idiot who was full of hubris and arrogance about some information she has that you don’t have?

Thus, a stupid person is the inverse example of Harry Callahan’s timeless axiom.

In action, this state of affairs is demonstrated by a false dichotomy I’ve seen all over the place, including at the obvious place: why do non-Muslim observers judge Islam for what some Muslims do, but do not judge Christianity for what some Christians do?

A variation of that question was repeated yesterday. Here was my answer.

Both Christians and Muslims have individual standard-bearers. The standard-bearer for Christians: Jesus of Nazareth. The standard-bearer for Muslims: Mohammed.

When observers attempt to determine whether self-described Christians or Muslims are true believers in their respective faiths and are acting as such, the logical thing do is to measure the words and/or actions against the teachings of the appropriate standard-bearer and, then, come to a cogent conclusion [about the doctrine in question].

From the subsequent part of our conversation, the inquirer had no understanding of standards or standard-bearers and wasn’t inclined to consider the definitions and implications of either. We all know he’s not alone. However, he did seem proud of the amount of information he was able to call forth about the Bible. There, he had me. But the Devil is able to quote scripture better than any of us, so that’s a contest I don’t care about. (And, yes, I can see it now: “she called that man the Devil because he disagreed with her.” To infer that would fall under the stupidity umbrella which I described earlier.)

I predict that we will see more of this, since stupidity is easier than interpretation and the stupid are prone to taking any route which makes them appear to be intelligent–even if that route ultimately leads to their demise.

UPDATE: Fredo unbound.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>baldilocks