Friday, February 23, 2007

The Problem with Stupid People is…

…they're too stupid to figure out that they're stupid. It doesn't matter that you point out to them how what they're saying is wrong, they, like George W. Bush in Iraq, just continue saying the same stupid things and then complain about the fact that you've called them stupid.

Consider this example: After I pointed out what was wrong with Amicus' last statements, this is what Amicus wrote in his next entry into the "pillow fight" comments section:

"I have no idea, honestly, why so many atheists feel that they must assert their intellectual superiority at the outset and throughout the debate.

It suggests that perhaps their "religion" truly is to kneel at the alter of a rationality for which they presuppose too much (if it were so evident, why the stridency?), if only because the sheer contempt, condescension, and disregard for any who seem to them not to have the intellectual capacity, the rationality, to understand them and their superior viewpoint."

Amicus, if you and Martin didn't write the obviously stupid and ignorant things you write I wouldn't call you stupid. In fact, I didn't call you stupid, I called you brainwashed, but now I have to call you stupid for, as Forrest Gump said, "stupid is as stupid does," and what you've done now is really stupid. Instead of admitting to your errors and owning up to them, you ask me why I think you're "intellectually inferior" and claim that I "kneel at the alter of a rationality" – and that's stupid as I shall now prove.

Let's start with the little things, Amicus, you want to say "altar" not "alter," an 'a' not an 'e' because alter is for like, "to alter the dress." That's kinda stupid, but it's minor.

Next, consider this whole concept of "kneeling at the altar of rationality." Reason is a tool, not an altar. To use a tool to figure things out is not worship. Would you also call using math to figure out the path of a rocket "knelling at the altar of mathematics"? Would you call going to the doctor "knelling at the altar of biology"? Yet when I use evidence and logic to figure out what kind of world I live in or show you how Amicus is clearly wrong I "kneel at the altar of rationality."

Then you claim that we "presuppose too much" but that's exactly what I demonstrated to you that you do. It was you who ignorantly presupposed what atheism meant and you who presupposed that Sam Harris' measure of religious insanity used only the jihadists. I demonstrated those claims were wrong by showing you the definition of atheism and listing the insanities of religion that were not jihadists.

You come with no evidence or claim of what we have presupposed; you just make the claim without offering either example or evidence. And you do this with stolen, empty rhetoric. (I say stolen because that phrase "altar of rationality" gets hits on google.)

If religionists didn't tend toward utterly ignorant beliefs, like believing in a fixed Earth as Georgia State Rep. Ben Bridges of Cleveland and Texas State Rep. Warren Chisum do, I wouldn't assume such stupidity generally in the religious. And it's also untrue to say that I think all Christians are stupid. For example, I don't think Peter Popoff is stupid, no, I think he's a charlatan who preys upon the stupid.

I don't think Pat Robertson is stupid, I think he's insane, he's completely psychotic, koo-koo for coco puffs, he has gone totally Katherine Harris looney-tunes. I don't think he is stupid because he obviously figured out how to make lots of money off of stupid people.

You, however, are unable to even comprehend the mountainous evidence of your own stupidly stupid stupidity. You claim my "stridency" is evidence of the fact I presuppose these things? But let me tell you, friend, stupidity is no joke. It needs to be taken very seriously. Most major, life and death, problems in the world today have their root causes firmly planted in sheer human stupidity. It has caused the suffering and death of untold millions of human beings throughout history.

Consider George W. Bush and his administration, they stupidly think America is stupid and either try to create their own reality (perhaps they buy into some stupid Deepak Chopra theory?) or simply lie like there's no tomorrow. This was testified to by Ron Suskind who claimed a Bush official told him, I paraphrase, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you in the reality-based community are studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Your talk of those of us who "kneel at the altar of rationality" is just as bad as that phrase "reality-based community." It's already been taken up as a badge of honor by some atheists. It's your confession that you're not rational.

When the Bush administration goofed up in Iraq, starting a civil war and not finding the WMD they claimed was there, the mistake was blamed on a "failure of intelligence," which is another synonym for stupidity but one that allows stupid people to maintain the delusion that they actually have intelligence and that it merely failed temporarily. I would suggest that if you fail to understand how logic and reason are used, you will fail dramatically at other things - perhaps important and serious things.

In yet another mystery of stupidity the leader who had this failure of intelligence, George W. Bush, was re-elected. “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” was the headline on the British newspaper, the Daily Mirror, the day after Mr. Bush was elected to his second term. Newspapers around the world expressed similar sentiments including, of course, the New York Times. They were, like me, wondering at the stupidity of people like you, Amicus.

Those with evangelical Republican sympathies, judging by reactions I'd read, took all of this condescension personally. On the last show of the season for HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" the former Senator from Montana, Alan Simpson, shook an angry, accusing finger at Bill Maher after Maher had told a condescending joke pointing out the stupidity of fundamentalists. Simpson then blamed Maher, and people like him, for John Kerry's defeat. Simpson thus demonstrated that he might be mentally qualified for handicapped parking. He was saying the Republican voters voted not for "moral values," or a tougher war against terrorism, or "character," or anything like that, but against being made fun of by people who weren't running. Now they must witness the cost of their own stupidity.

Your stupidity is like that when you accuse me of "kneeling at the altar of rationality."

If Simpson is going to say that about Republican voters he might as well say they're the kind of people who take a ruler to bed to see how long they sleep, or that they send faxes with stamps on them, or that they think TuPac Shakur is a Jewish holiday. Getting angry at people who call you stupid isn't going to convince them that you're sharper than a bowl of Jello. No, you've got to prove you're not stupid by explaining why your positions on the issues make more sense than trying to arrange your M&Ms alphabetically.

If you're a Christian or a brain dead fundamentalist Republican then be glad those damned intellectual elitists still make jokes about you because it means they don't think you're as dangerously stupid as the Islamic extremists who killed Theo van Gogh. Worry when they stop making fun of you and stop challenging you to a dialog because that means they really have given up on you and are too scared to speak. Fear is a dangerous emotion and it makes people do stupid things, even atheists.

Of course, intellectual elitist Democrats should rethink calling George W. Bush a moron because saying that amounts to saying, "That moron outsmarted us twice." Besides, you're not going to be convincing many stupid people to vote your way when you call them stupid. Nor am I going to convince you that you're stupid merely by presenting you with evidence of your ignorance. You're probably not smart enough to make sense of it. It's just not a smart thing to do even when you are stupid. Pointing out the obvious stupidity of stupid people just makes them angry.

Almost all stupid people are in denial about their stupidity and the dumber you are the more likely you are to be in denial about your stupidity. This was demonstrated scientifically by Dr. David Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois.

The results of Mr. Dunning's and Mr. Kruger's research was reported in the Denver Post some time ago in an article called, "Why the ignorant are blissful: Inept individuals ooze confidence, study finds." It described research proving that stupid people are too stupid to realize they are stupid. The results also appeared in an issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Test subjects were given tests in logic, English grammar and humor and then asked to estimate how well they scored. Those who scored lowest on all three tests were most likely to overestimate how well they scored. The lower the score, the greater the overestimation. Later the test subjects were shown the tests of other subjects and higher scorers revised their estimate of their own performance to reflect reality. Those with low scorers did not and sometimes they even raised their estimates upward. Truly stupid people cannot be clued in to their own stupidity. People who test badly, Dunning and Kruger found, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who are smart. Not only do stupid people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

Kruger and Dunning also found that intelligent people were likely to underestimate their own intelligence. This was attributed to the fact that, with no information about how others are doing, intelligent people assumed that others were performing as well as they were. This is called a "false consensus effect." What smart people are stupid about is just how stupid the rest of the world is.

In short, stupid people are too stupid to realize they're stupid and too stupid to learn to recognize their incompetence and learn from their mistakes. And we let them vote and run our country because we don't realize how stupid they are until it is too late.

This, of course, must lead you, dear reader, to ask the ultimate question of yourself; are you stupid? Is there a way to tell?

Yes, there is. One way to measure your stupidity is by how angry and enraged you felt while reading this post. If you felt insulted at all by it, then the odds are that you are a stupid person. This is because you realized, on some level in that confused and irrational brain of yours, that when I was talking about stupid people I was talking about you. If that last sentence enrages you still further then you are probably hopelessly stupid and now want to kill me or vote for George W. Bush again.

For those of you who are somewhat angry but not presently foaming at the mouth and chasing after me with baseball bats what you need to do is admit that you are stupid. It's the first stage in any recovery. If you can't admit that you are stupid at least admit that you might appear stupid to people who don't understand in what ways you're not stupid.

You see, I'm sure I appear stupid too. At least that's what I've been told by people who have radically different views of reality. What I've done that you may not have done is admit this to myself. I am stupid about a lot of things and I know that the things that I call stupid are really just things other people do that make no sense to me. The way you argue your point actually works against you. There may indeed be smart reasons for doing these apparently stupid things but I don't understand what those reasons are. Stupidity is thus relative to our frame of reference. However, getting angry about being called stupid is always stupid and counter-productive and a sure sign of true stupidity. Curb that angry desire and you'll do a lot to smarten yourself up.

So, Christians who complain about being "bashed" when they're called stupid or ignorant are just compounding their problems. You should be asking yourself why you seem so stupid to us. And all I'm doing is explaining why you come off as a moron.


Amicus said...

I didn't get angry, I'm not angry, and I didn't call you stupid.

What I observed was what I said, "I have no idea, honestly, why so many atheists feel that they must assert their intellectual superiority at the outset and throughout the debate."

I went on to suggest that perhaps it is consequence of atheistic beliefs themselves to generate such an ubiquitous attitude.

As for "stupid", I can only observe that you will make more tracks with me if you can say more fully what you think is stupid and why, rather than simply assert it as a conclusion.

Among the things that you might consider doing is separating facts from opinions, suggesting that someone might be ignorant of the facts or don't seem to exhibt the kind of logic that you would like to see in support of their opinions (i.e. an opinion on Bush-43). In your note above, I didn't see any place you had done that in relation to what I said, so I don't have a directed reply. If I missed something, let me know.

I would say, in general, that you probably don't want to "dump" on stupid people, as a matter of ideology or your atheism. For one thing, it has a terrible history, with people getting killed because of such divisions, etc.

normdoering said...

Amicus wrote:
" will make more tracks with me if you can say more fully what you think is stupid and why, rather than simply assert it as a conclusion."

What!? You want evidence? You know what that means, it means you “kneel at the alter of a rationality.”

Let go of your rational mind and believe it - you're stupid.

Amicus said...

Stupid? Really, I just feel *human*.

Anyway, what has your reportedly rational mind brought you, in your opinion on the things that matter most in life?

Really, on great issues like love, friendship, caring, humility - the rational mind seems either slient or weak ... based both on the evidence, which rationalist seem to emphasize, and more generally.

normdoering said...

Again, a new post on what Amicus is ignorant of. Look for:

Amicus refuses to leave Hell and reveals yet more ignorance

AtheistAcolyte said...

I'm afraid here I must side against ND on the content of his post (but not with Amicus). It was quite inflammatory and seems like it was only meant to 'preach to the choir' at the expense of alienating a debate opponent.

However, as far as Amicus' second post about what the rational mind has gotten us... You seem to think that rational thought is against emotion and vice-versa. Which it isn't. Reason and emotion frequently go hand in hand, as Sam Harris elucidated in his most recent e-mail. The fact that I know the love I feel for my wife is a particular balance of neurochemicals boosted by the recognition of her face doesn't cheapen it. It doesn't make me want to kiss her less, or be with her less, or 'know' (that's in the Biblical sense) her less to avoid these primitive chemical imbalances. No, rather, it makes me feel incredible that I exist in this way, and that I have the same effect on her (although she is theistic and attributes her love for me to her imaginary friend in the sky). That I can listen to music and feel my heart race faster or calm down based on the rhythm and chord harmonics doesn't make the music any less astonishing.

Reason does not cancel out emotion. It only opens a new way of considering these emotions, and I would very much like Amicus to recognize this and feel it himself.

Amicus said...

"Reason and emotion frequently go hand in hand ..."
AA, sorry I seem to have missed your reply in my last go through on this board.

I think I may have continued on your point in the more recent post, here.

I'm not sure I understand Sam or your point fully.

The context here is that the rational mind is to be believed/followed and the non-rational is "stupid".