In which I defend stupid, ignorant people.

Now and then a semi-RO post pops up ranting about someone who did something stupid and is now suffering the consequences. Such as this thread where the OP seems to revel in the idea of people who make stupid medical decisions dying painful deaths.

I’m going to defend ignorance here. Some people just aren’t that bright. They can’t just will themselves smarter. They can’t just work a little harder. You have no idea what it is like to be below average intelligence.You have no idea what it is like to grow up without books, without encouragement, with even Sesame Street. You have no idea what it’s like to be one of those “left behind” children who is shuffled through school and eventually released without ever developing those crucial critical thinking skills. To always struggle at life because one of the basic things most people have isn’t there.

In my life I’ve known some bright people. And I’ve known some dim bulbs. And those dim bulbs were no less worthwhile as people. Some of them have been as loving, funny, and fun to be around. Some have been outright heroes who have saved lives with the love they are willing to show others. Some, of course, have been selfish drunks. The point is that their IQ does not determine their worth as a person.

And let’s not get too high on our own horses. In America I’m a pretty smart woman. In a sustenance farming village, I’m a total retard whose own stupidity will probably kill me soon after my first failed harvest.

So let’s not heap insult to injury on people who aren’t so bright. I’ve known people who have been harmed by their own bad choices. But they didn’t really understand those choices. This is called a tragedy, and it sucks. It’s not something we are supposed to find joy in.

Well written.

It’s a gutsy post but by-and-large I think it’s a correct post.

Too often on the internet we’re quick to tut-tut the failings of others, without caring to admit that in other times–or even right now–we ourselves might have done the same thing.

Stupid people can be very frustrating, but yeah, I try not to get too pissed off. Half of us will always be below average. It’s the smart people who still manage to be dumb that are really infuriating. Like my former coworker who mixed air and hydrogen over palladium-on-carbon, resulting in a fireball. He has a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT, and this was not the first time he’d ever performed a reduction.:smack: I’m glad I survived the time he and I were stuck working next to each other.

Any one of us may have injected silicon into our butt?

No, but it’s “silicone” anyway.

See, we all make mistakes.

I love that and I agree with you completely. Some of the most intuitive people I’ve ever known were also those who weren’t well read, highly educated or scholarship material. Some of the most boorish people I know are all those things. I’ll take nice, friendly, compassionate and thoughtful over brilliant any day and I’m of just above average intelligence so maybe my thoughts don’t really count in the matter. I’m not Mensa material myself… Just a little smarter than the average bear but I’ve made some doozyish bad decisions in my life! One of them was marrying the really smart guy instead of staying with the kind, not so bright, one!

Bit of an overstatement there, I think.

The whole post is very well-written but this part especially struck me. Nicely done.

Yeah, but a minor spelling mistake on the internet isn’t harmful or fatal to me.

It’s not about willing yourself smarter. They’re not being pitted because they can’t do multivariable calculus. They’re being pitted because they thought having surgery in a stranger’s kitchen was a good idea. If I’m walking alone at night in a bad neighborhood, talking loudly on an expensive cellphone, do I deserve to be mugged? Of course not. Did my own stupid decision turn out badly for me? Undoubtedly. Don’t confuse intelligence and common sense.

Also, by my reading, the OP in the linked thread is not “reveling” in stupid decisions. It’s actually more of his lack of RO that he is commenting on.

It may be, if you deliberately concentrate and inhale it.

As a teacher, I see plenty of smart-but-socially-awkward/non-charismatic types who agonize over how the average or even stupid-but-socially-astute/charismatic kids seem to move through life so effortlessly. What they never see (and what I never saw, frankly, when I was one of them) is how hard it is for the stupid-and-socially-awkward/uncharismatic types. Individuals are not zero-sum games: some people are smart and pretty and empathic and athletic. Some people are slow and ugly and emotionally/socially unaware and clumsy. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. But the ones that manage to flip “tails” ten times in a row–there but for the grace of god go most of us.

From a Darwinian perspective, stupid people taking themselves out of the gene pool is nothing but a good thing. Just sayin’.

No. No, it is not. Unless you really think that the kind of pattern recognition ability identified by IQ testing is in some way a positive survival trait anywhere other than a very narrow division of the world.

Just for the record? It’s not. From a Darwinian perspective, it is good to have a fallback position in the event that the rarefied conditions necessary to support the kind of intelligence you value so highly should at any time collapse or otherwise change.

But again, to tie back to an example that sven made:

I consider myself pretty smart. If I was dropped off in a sustenance farming village, I wouldn’t know what the fuck to do to survive without the help of everyone around me. If I died from starvation because I, someone who spent their whole life in a first world urban area, miscalcuated what crops to grow, or that the signs in the soil and the history of the area indicated there would be out-of-the-normal weather, does that mean it’s a good thing that I died?

In subsistance farming, I’m a right moron. Those same subsistance farmers would seem like morons and possibly kill themselves in, say, an industrial factory. “Intelligence” and “common sense” are incredibly dependent on where you are.

You’re right, if featherlou defines ‘stupid people’ as people who perform poorly on IQ tests. But there are plenty of other interpretations of stupid that make featherlou’s post very true.

Basically, you’re arguing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can all pretend we’re so much smarter or better, but the only reason we’re smarter or “better” is because we have our basic needs met. Some people have to spend so much time focusing on the basic needs that they never have a chance to attain anything intellectually greater.

Who says subsistence farmers are stupid, even in our world? And do you really think you’d die if you were dropped into a primitive farm and told to survive? Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t. I bet most of us would do ok–not great, not as well as someone who was reared in that culture, but we would survive.

I get what is being said: that we all have skill sets and they should be appreciated, not mocked, but honestly? Education is not the same as intelligence. Or as someone once told me, “Simple is not the same as stupid.” Even new settlers to this country, who had massive ignorance and few skills, survived (those that didn’t die from disease that is). I don’t quite buy the Maslow stuff as applied here. Her basic needs were taken care of–with funds left over to supply wants, not needs. If anything, it’s her higher judgement skills that are lacking.

Then again, thinking that it would be ok to have surgery in such circumstances strikes me as stupid, stupid, stupid. Just like handing all my retirement money to Mr Madoff is stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid pervades all levels of society; it’s seen in every race, creed and religion. Stupid is as stupid does. I think we can all learn lessons from the terminally stupid. Part of me is terminally stupid–I utterly fail at math and I struggle daily with it. But knowing that about myself, I am vigilant about checking my sums and very leery of schemes involving math. (that sounds odd; I mean financing and such).

I don’t agree (except in jest) with those who would like to see stupid people die off or get culled etc. They have their mite to contribute as do we all. But I can’t say that it’s ok to not become informed, that stupidity should be celebrated, that we should pity them for (literally) they know not what they do. That might be true on rare occasions, but overall, IMO they rely on wishful thinking over rational thought. Wishful thinking does not correlate well with reality.

But see,you can’t just operationalize a definition to prove yourself right. It doesn’t work like that, because I could do the same thing and prove the exact opposite.