Monday, December 11, 2023

About stupidity

Searching for something else that I’ve now forgotten, I found something I wrote in 2007, responding to a very reasonable and polite suggestion that in this blog I was being a bit harsh to people who don’t read much and don’t know a lot about politics and philosophy and the like. And I’d probably tweak the phrasing today, but the sentiment still holds up after – bloody hell – getting on for 17 years:

Yes, it may be tiresome, even impolite to point out that some people are dim, but if we don't do it, we'll eventually lose the ability to discriminate between what is stupid and what isn't. And that matters.

I guess it’s the distinction between the “what” and the “who” that matters here. But maintain that we do need to call out the “what”, even if some of the “who” get caught up in the fracas.

PS: On similar-ish lines, someone put this up on BlueSky, to which I’ve slunk off because Elon Musk’s a colossal arse. From Neil Postman’s Technopoly:
...every teacher must be a history teacher. To teach, for example, what we know about biology today without also teaching what we once knew, or thought we knew, is to reduce knowledge to a mere consumer product. It is to deprive students of the sense of the meaning of what we know, and of how we know.

1 comment:

Ian said...

It may not be a popular sentiment these days, but I think you're quite right. The thing of it is, back when making these kinds of distinctions was less controversial, the general tenor was raised because of it, because those with less capacity wanted to emulate the better equipped. So you had things people writing op-eds for backwoods farmers and producing The Federalist Papers. Now the pressures operate in precisely the opposite direction... Downward, and dimward.