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July 20, 2010

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KC

If Americans are so smart, can you explain the popularity of Limbaugh, Beck and O'Reilly? :D

Josh

Believe it or not, I completely agree. No character trait is quite so revolting as intellectual snobbery. Maybe I'm a tad over-sensitive to this, being that I come from a part of the country that is widely stereotyped as ignorant and backward, but it definitely stings when I hear or see large groups of people indiscriminately labeled as ignorant or otherwise worthless. Some of the greatest people in the history of the world were called ignorant hicks by their contemporaries, and some of them were in fact illiterate and uneducated. In contrast, some of the most evil people the world has ever seen were highly educated and intelligent. Some of the best people I've ever had the good fortune to meet were extremely "backward" by today's common standards, and yet still managed to be good, honest, caring people, who despite their lack of formal education had plenty of wisdom of their own about life and the way folks ought to treat one another.

In fact, I'd venture to say that a lot of those people are better off in many ways, because they may have shielded themselves knowingly or otherwise from the technological and economic cliff the rest of us are rushing headlong to jump off of. I'd venture to say the real dumbasses are those of us who place our faith in the good will of international corporations and governments in the pockets of big business, and the "Invisible Hand" of the Almighty Market.

I don't mean to disparage education, science, or technological advance by any stretch of the imagination. I am far from being an anarcho-primitivist, and I don't share the deep distrust of all things academic some of our neighbors possess. However, if I may quote a well-known philosopher on this subject, it may help to illuminate my position a bit further.

"Don't be too proud of this technological terror. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force".

By which Lord Vader means to say that just because we have developed all sorts of electronic wizardry does not mean we have conquered nature, or traveled very far from our "uncivilized" roots. We have enhanced our lives in many ways, but in many ways we are also still the bloodthirsty barbarians we always were. Intelligence is relative, and in the grand scheme of things none of us is really that intelligent at all, yet we are all pretty smart in some way or another, for better or for worse.

Jerem Morrow

Like Josh above, I agree. But it bears noting, for my own part, that identifying idiocy when it comes down the pipe is not only necessary, but vital, to thwarting it's further stranglehold. Maybe it's just a stranglehold on stupidity being popular, and not an actual hold on the masses. But either is frightening, isn't it? I like this query that was posed to me: Would the world be a better place if more people of higher intelligence were breeding, instead of people who think lard, salt and Limbaugh are the pinnacle of human achievements?

Jerem Morrow

Hey, further thought, as I had at least a smidgen to do with the fire behind this post 8^P - At times, I identify something as being moronic or "proof humanity deserves obliteration", and I assume it's understood as being humorously hyperbolic. I think, per discussions, that one the whole, we agree across the board. Still, I enjoy playing devil's advocate. You just happen to be +50 levels more suave about it than I. Bastardo!

toenolla

Preach it, brother. There's nothing I find so repulsive in a bright person as disdain for the people they think of as "stupid."

What really worries me is the eliminationist rhetoric that seems to come pouring forth from this attitude, as if some forms of elimination are morally sound. And we all know that our understanding of intelligence is not without a host of prejudices. How many logical steps separate this attitude from regular old bigotry?

KC


So how *should* someone express their disdain of a particular group of people they deem less intelligent? I recall you stating in an article that rioters torching mom & pop stores is 'monumentally stupid'. Are you not guilty of the same generalization you're talking about in this article? Or is this only for those that make wider generalizations? And, if so, where is the dividing line between it being ok to call something 'stupid' and being someone that falls into the category you're talking about here?

giania

Thank you! I've long shuddered at the term "sheeple". It's a cop out for real dialog... a cudgel for use by those who do not wish to articulate the specifics of their gripes against others' behavior and/or feel compelled to maintain a sense of indignant superiority.

Jim

Sharon Astyk deals with a variation of this in a recent post at http://j.mp/TragicSense

But, umm, aren't you setting up a straw man by positing a land where illiterates headbut cats nailed to trees?

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