Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simple isn't the same thing as dumb.

We joke a lot on this blog about "our intellectual betters" and their remarkable ability to "understand complexity". I just read an interesting article (here) which very concisely explains the phenomenon whereby smart-seeming people do anything but act wisely.  I've always been one to contend that it's more important to watch what someone does than to listen to what they say and I suspect our regular readers would agree.

Here's an excerpt from the article. I recommend reading the whole thing.

    The main problem may be confusing simple with dumb.

    If something is simple, then dumb people will believe it. And if dumb people believe something, then soon some conclude that smart people should believe something else. There’s a flaw in that philosophy.

    Why shouldn’t you touch a hot stove? There’s no complex, smart answer to that. You’ll get roughly the same answer from Stephen Hawking that you’d get from Forrest Gump: It’s hot, and it will hurt.

    But say you were going to argue that you should touch a hot stove. That would have to be a very complex answer, since it defies basic logic. And some people could run with that, talking in detail about pain receptors and the brain’s reaction to stimulus, and come up with a very smart-sounding argument on why touching a hot stove is a great idea.

    Others will go further and mock all those ignorant people in the flyover states for their irrational fear of hot stoves and announce, “The most enlightened thing to do is to press one’s face against a hot stove.” Those people are what we call intellectuals.

    Similarly, when someone comes up with a well-reasoned argument backed by top economists that two plus two equals five, there’s no brilliant way to refute it. The only response is: “No, you’re an idiot; it’s four.” But if you say that, you’ll be called anti-smart people.

1 comment:

Evil_Klown said...

... “The most enlightened thing to do is to press one’s face against a hot stove.” Those people are what we call intellectuals.

Well, there are two problems with this:
1 - Don't count me in the "we" group that calls them intellectuals.
2 - The problem with these people is they aren't content to stick their own faces against the stove. They have to involve EVERYONE. They make their "argument" and then write laws/rules that FORCE everyone else to go along with their idiocy ... our objections mean nothing. And the worst part? They never accept responsibility for their mistake, and because of that, they never learn from their mistake either.

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