Stupidity

by George Hatjoullis

Twitter is a wonderful medium. Amongst the many irritating and pointless, self-serving Tweets there are occasional gems. Today I came across one of these gems.

stupidity

Unfortunately, Bonhoeffer was wrong. We did try to persuade the stupid person with reasons. This was went wrong in 2016.

Stupidity is defined as behaviour that displays a lack of good sense or judgement. But this is an empty definition unless accompanied by some clarification on what constitutes good sense or judgement. I have always favoured a different definition of stupidity; not recognising one’s own self-interest. One may recognise own self-interest and not act on it. This is not stupid. One may understand that self-interest has a time component and favour, say, short-term self-interest over long-term. This is not stupid. One may value things differently and prioritize different outcomes to others. These may seem ‘stupid’ to others but cannot be deemed stupid. We are entitled to different priorities. To simply not recognise one’s own self-interest however is stupid.

Populists rely on such stupidity. They propose an outcome that appeals to a majority of the electorate and imply the outcome is easily achieved and with no adverse consequences that need concern them. Stupid voters believe them. People with facts and reasoned arguments attempt to explain the risks and consequences of the proposed outcomes but are dismissed. The populists exhort their voters to ignore experts and treat any statement not made by the populist politicians as fake. All statements made by populist politicians are to be treated as fact and not explored explored further. Stupid people comply. To enforce compliance anyone questioning or opposing these statements is openly categorised as unpatriotic, treacherous, and a lesser being. Violence is implied. Stupid (and some frightened) people comply.

Stupidity is once again prevalent. It has become difficult to engage in conversations for fear of finding one is speaking to an idiot. But how does one know that one is not also an idiot? If you are frightened by the present political situation and find yourself avoiding engagement then you are likely very intelligent and incommand of reality. You know your self-interest and the direction of events do not favour you.You are certainly not stupid. If think the world is on the right path and the future is rosy for you ….

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