Almost Everybody is Stupid

If there’s one thing that almost everybody agrees on, it’s that almost everybody else is dumb.  You know what I mean.  You’re much smarter than average, right?  Well, everyone thinks so, for one of two reasons.

  1. You’re smarter than almost everyone else
  2. You’re wrong

You and I fall into the first category, of course, but all the dumb people think they’re there too.  How can you really tell which you’re in?  Or, to be more precise, under what circumstances can someone be wrong about their own aptitude? The answer “because he’s an idiot” does not suffice; it’s circular logic.

A person whose self-opinion is wrong doesn’t have to be stupid; rather, his defining characteristic is that his feedback loop is broken.  For some reason, either nobody tells him when he’s being an idiot, or he ignores people when they do.  He’s convinced himself that everyone else is crazy, or that they simply don’t appreciate his genius, or maybe he only talks to people who already agree with him.

What does that mean for you?  Besides meaning that you can’t attribute peoples’ meta-stupidity to their stupidity, it means you can’t assume that people are stupid for disagreeing with you.  You throw away your own feedback loop when you do that.  You have to expose yourself to the ideas of people whom you currently believe to be wrong or stupid, and you have to honestly try to prove yourself wrong.

“Know your enemy,” we say, but I submit that the true purpose of this is not to better defeat him; it’s to make sure you’re on the right team.  You don’t have to take Anne Coulter seriously, but you do have to figure out why some people do.

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3 Responses to Almost Everybody is Stupid

  1. You might also want to read “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”, available on the web at http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/unskilled.html

    Basic point – you need to reach a certain level of competence in a skill to understand just how hard it actually is. Until then, you think you’re more skilled than you actually are, because you don’t understand the skill in question.

    • Anya says:

      There’s more to it than that, too: people who have stupid-genes think more slowly and reason poorly, thus there is incentive for them to be more proactive. Confidence is a big part of this. This is why persons and populations with lower IQ tend to be more on the ‘rowdy’ side, it’s selection to compensate for their stupidity with aggressive and exuberant behavior.

  2. Anya says:

    ‘Stupid’ is a lazy shorthand for the problem which is that most people are ‘intellectually lazy, trope-laden, meme-bound social signaling fuckbags who can’t think outside their own tiny box’.
    However, everyone is fucking stupid, too, IE their general intelligence is for shit. Most people are stupid ape-pigs, and they really just ought to go extinct.

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