Fandango has picked a doozy of a provocative question this week.
This week’s provocative question is based upon a quote by Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Whew, that’s a lot of cred. Anyway, Russell, who died in 1970, suggested that…
“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubts.”
Do you concur with Mr. Russell’s perspective? Why or why not?
I’m not sure why Bertrand Russell qualified his quote with “in the modern world” as I think human nature is human nature, wherever and whenever it is. How do I articulate my response in a concise way? Hmmmm…. OK maybe if I break it down by the cognitive processes of each…
The cognitive processes of the stupid… no, wait, that isn’t going to work. It might be a good idea to separate ignorance from stupidity. Ignorance is not knowing something or being unaware of things that might be important to know or be aware of in certain circumstances. There are a lot of ignorant people in the world that are not stupid, they just haven’t had an opportunity to gather information.
One definition of stupid that I want to throw out of the window are those without the capacity to learn; these individuals are not stupid, they are cognitively impaired. It is a very important distinction to make. Drug-induced or mental health barriers such as psychosis are also cognitive impairments. Got it?
Now we are getting to the stupid, which I consider individuals who have unlimited opportunity to learn but consciously choose not to learn. These are individuals who choose to short-circuit their cognitive processes and turn to other sources to do their thinking for them. The sources vary widely but can include cultural indoctrination based on the power structure’s brainwashing through definition of terms; family upbringing with its values, actions, etc.; religious indoctrination through church leaders, holy books, and practices through definition of terms; mixed media intake, such as TV, social media, newspapers, e-sources. What happens when the stupid turn to and latch onto other sources? They sidestep their own thinking, they take on the “persona” of “the voice of the source,” and become a mouthpiece or transmitter. Cocksure is when the stupid turn up the volume.
Let’s move on to the intelligent. Like the definition of stupid, I want to shove the definition of intelligent that says cognitively superior off to the side, as I’ve known plenty of intelligent people who were quite stupid. I would like to amend intelligent to critical thinking. Critical thinkers have a capacity to examine multiple perspectives of a person/place/thing/situation/etc and draw reasonable conclusions from it, which they then can – hopefully – apply to the way they navigate through life. The critical thinker also sees that there are a limitless number of perspectives that can be had on any person/place/thing/situation/etc, so the best they can do is choose the best possible options from their personal perspective to go with – or not, they can also choose to be stupid at times. This means there will always be doubt with the choices, as things are always changing and shifting. This also means being a critical thinker means always being receptive to new information when it presents itself to you.
One final thing: this does not even begin to address the issue of emotional intelligence, emotional stupidity, and emotional impairment!
OK, concise flew out the window, but I am hoping communication was achieved!