Too much truth

I have to agree with this video. It lines up too well with my experience.

About the point that stupidity is a sociological phenomenon: look at the mess we’re in, and then look at Fox News. There’s the breeding ground, that and all the other awful social media, like Facebook.


  1. ardipithecus says

    The breeding ground is somewhere in the human psyche. Purveyors, such as Faux, or social media are more like fertilizer, sunlight, and, of course, fecal matter.

    The phenomenon is likely as old as the invention of hierarchy.

  2. Walter Solomon says

    The type stupidity described here sounds like a combination of willfull ignorance, conformity, and tribalism. It’s similar to a religious belief.

    If you can’t reason with or instruct this kind of stupid, what’s left, conversion? I’m not sure most reasonable people have the patience or fortitude necessary for the task. Personally, I’ve tried online and in person and usually just end up saying “fuck it. Believe what you want.”

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    The video doesn’t mention how Bonhoeffer’s “liberation” is supposed to take place or manifest itself. How do we “liberate” the stupid?

  4. Susan Montgomery says

    @3. Don’t bother.

    “Just tell ’em you’re gonna soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff…Willie, make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em mad, even mad at you. Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”

    Robert Penn Warren – All the King’s Men

  5. moarscienceplz says

    Yeah, Akira MacKenzie beat me to the punch. What the heck does “external liberation” mean? Shoot their TVs so they can’t watch Fox News anymore?
    Also, labeling Conservatives as ‘stupid’ seems useless. It just devolves into a schoolyard spat. “You’re stupid!” “Nuh-uhh! You’re stupid!”

  6. StevoR says

    is it just me seeing this as echoes of “stupidity” as a malignant meme or collection of (sub?)culturally transmitted memes in the original Dawkins sense of that word?

    I’m not sure “stupidity” is quite the word for it though not exactly sure what is..

  7. birgerjohansson says

    I see PZ Myers watched the same youtube entry I did. :-)

    I do not think you can “cure” people neck-deep in a dysfunctional worldview, at most you can try to reach people in the outskirts of crazytown before they are engulfed by the lump of slogans that serves as a substitute for thinking.
    I was about to mention Qanon, but the problem is more universal.
    One example of slogans instead of thinking is the belief the current system is the only one possible, that higher taxes are a violation of the world order, that it is natural politicians should get huge amounts of money from corporate interest groups.

    I would argue- yes, I am European- that Joe Biden, Pelosi and the others are also stuck in a kind of intellectual laziness, that status quo (but with a few patches) is the only reality possible.
    Big wars are taken for granted. Unemployment is taken for granted. Of course the banks should have a veto on bank regulation. I could go on forever.

    Obviously the Regressive Party is even worse, as De Santis seems to go full fascist in Florida. And Bond villains are buying social media.

  8. christoph says

    This reminds me of Dr. Stanley Milgram’s obedience research, where he tried to understand why so many people went along with the Nazis so willingly.

  9. moarscienceplz says

    “I would argue- yes, I am European- that Joe Biden, Pelosi and the others are also stuck in a kind of intellectual laziness, that status quo (but with a few patches) is the only reality possible.”
    Yep, you are right, but it’s not really intellectual laziness, it is indoctrination. I am a few years younger than JB & NP, but I too was educated that there was only a binary choice: Capitalism, or Communism (i.e., Totalitarianism). Either let a few lucky people have most of the money and HOPE they don’t mess around with human rights too much, or let a few lucky people have most of the money and EXPECT them to mess around with human rights, too.

  10. says

    Hannah Arendt also didn’t believe that the evil people commit is intentional.

    Personally I think it’s kind of a mix. There’s a good deal of “thinking with” – going along with your in-group because you always have, even if the leaders of your in-group are different or have new priorities. But there is also intention, acting on fears and prejudices. That’s why we go to such lengths to dehumanize others.

    Also, as Akira MacKenzie points out, knowing that this might be going on doesn’t give us any tools for accomplishing an “external liberation.” For one thing, I fully expect Trumpists (for example) to point at the vid as evidence that I am being stupid.

  11. says

    The one part I do not agree with is ruling out malice as a problem. It didn’t even make sense as they describe the stupid person having a “moral failing” and how they’ll not even realize they are doing things that are morally wrong. So why not both malice and stupidity? Why not, perhaps, stupidity as a consequence of malice? (That is to suggest a person’s malice/moral failing leads to stupidity.) The idea that malice “can be exposed and prevented by the use of force” also seems strange to me. Ultimately, that did bring down the Nazis of WWII, but I get the impression Bonhoeffer was suggesting it should have been stopped long before that point. Why would it have been, though?

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 11

    So why not both malice and stupidity?

    Exactly! It is possible to believe in “stupid” things that are not (at least not directly) harmful, but the unwavering, unreachable hatred we’re seeing today takes a combination of stupidity and malice.

  13. weylguy says

    It’s one thing to be willingly ignorant (just look the other way), but to be willingly stupid is something else.

  14. moarscienceplz says

    @#12 drew
    Ooh, whassamatter Sweetums?
    Did you post something bigoted, or stupid, and have your head handed to you here?

  15. says

    In the immortal words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.” Our best bet is to separate them out and put them somewhere they can’t hurt anyone, and wall it off. Like Florida.

  16. flange says

    I’ve always had trouble using the word “stupid” for people. I thought it made me sound better than someone, who through no fault of their own, was not as intelligent as me. People who use the word in a demeaning way always made me uncomfortable. Bonhoeffer’s “stupid” seems like a personality infection that’s treatment-resistant. With their meaningless slogans, placards, and anger, the mob that stormed the Capitol was the ultimate example of Trump/Republican-induced stupidity.

  17. says

    “stupidity” = kinds of irrational and illogical behavior.

    Also the free speech fetishists who are more passionate will give examples of what the probs are. I don’t mean to dismiss the resulting mess but remember the hyperbolic militarized posturing of gamer gate? I hope not but I’ll be ready to use examples politically.

  18. lanir says

    I had a similar idea growing up. I dealt with a lot of bullying. I had a group of people at school who treated me very poorly or were totally okay with others doing so and bought into some weird gossipy beliefs about me. I had other people who weren’t related to the school that were just fine to deal with. I didn’t have any problems with them.At least one of the latter group was severely developmentally disabled. Some of the school kids did very well in school although not the most antagonistic ones. I still thought that “stupid” was about the closest word I could come up with for the attitude I saw. And yes, that was almost certainly due to bad stereotypes.

    I wasn’t an adult at the time I formed these ideas and I didn’t have anything like a looming world war to focus my thinking on the human condition as a whole. So I never had ideas about how to liberate someone from these ideas. I feel pretty lost when I try to imagine what that external liberation would even look like. I have some ideas about the internal liberation (my parents started me off as a conservative but that only lasted until I saw other ideas). But I just find the external liberation puzzling.

  19. hillaryrettig1 says

    My suggestion for liberating people is to make their lives easier materially through govt redistribution and also to make the consequences of hate (including on TV) and malicious ignorance (e.g., antivax) more severe. So many of our problems began with Reagan, and especially his dismantling of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, which opened the door for toxic rw media.

    Eyal Press wrote a great book, Beautiful Souls, which is an examination of the motivations of people who break free of their societal programming and constraints to do exceptional good works. “Intelligence” is not these heroes’ defining trait: it’s that they take the values of their group seriously. So, e.g., the WWII Swiss officer who against orders issued visas to hundreds of Jews: “As I Swiss, I couldn’t not do this…”

  20. moarscienceplz says

    ‘In the immortal words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”’
    I had no idea who Ron White is, so I found a YouTube of him. First, he still smokes in this day and age, so he’s an idiot. Second he smokes on stage, blowing his toxins all over his audience, so he’s an arrogant selfish idiot. Third, his routine is about wanting to enter a bar, but the bouncer won’t let him in because the bouncer thinks his hat makes him look like a ‘faggot’. So Ron White takes off his hat, apparently because he really wants to give his money to a bar that excludes ‘faggots’. Nice.
    What do you do for fun, WMDKitty, invite Bill Cosby, Louis C. K., and Charlie Rose over to play Monopoly?

  21. klatu says

    I can accept that people are somewhat predisposed to follow “strong” (maximum banana count) leaders.
    There’s plenty of evidence. Bolsonaro. Trump. Johnson.

    But I remain unconvinced that this is inevitable. I remain unconvinced because I have to be.
    I have to remain unconvinced because otherwise, this planet is fucked.

    I want this world to survive, so it’s really simple.

    Therefore, I want leaders with sub-optimal banana counts. I want those leaders because they unstand that the smart number of bananas to own is <= 1.

    As in, each banana is worth exactly one bonono. Are you doubting my sanity yet? Why am I talking about bananas?

    This is what is wrong with everyhing.

    Our global economic model of growth requires that one banana eventually splits into two bonanos. Each bonano is then worth four bonanas and so on.

    If you find this model convincing, then you are wrong.

    Each bonano must become more than itself in order to become profitable, you see? Infinite regress is inevitable under capitalism.

    That’s why I favour a “1 bonono = 1 banano = 1 bonano” model. Growth is the enemy of survival. A finite planet can only harbor a finite number of bonanos. Everyone gets 1 banona, and that solves the problem.

  22. F.O. says

    The only liberation I can imagine is to create a culture where people are suspicious of wannabe rulers and where the flow of information is not controlled by a few rich assholes.

  23. unclefrogy says

    But I remain unconvinced that this is inevitable. I remain unconvinced because I have to be.
    I have to remain unconvinced because otherwise, this planet is fucked.
    I want this world to survive, so it’s really simple.

    I too want to believe that some how wisdom will prevail at least for a while longer and we will solve the most pressing problems. I how ever do not fear for the end of the world we are not that powerful, maybe in the distant future a few hundred years from now if we make it through the next 100. The earth will be here and life will find a way no matter how bad we fuck things up even if we make it impossible for humans to exist. What is really staring us in the face is the end of our global civilization as it is constituted today. It is in our power to do things differently we are way to wasteful our systems have too much of the wrong kinds of waste just look in any land fill, smoke stack or war zone.

  24. birgerjohansson says

    @ 12
    I seem to recaĺl getting a lot of pushback on some comments I have made over the years so, no this is not Fox News.
    (Remember Tucker Carlson claiming Ivermectin was a working, proven cure at 25 separate occasions and later flat-out denying he had said that? This is NOT the kind of environment where you can get away with that)

  25. birgerjohansson says

    Stupidity as a consequence of malice is100% true.
    Also known as wossname selective something.
    The dumb n*ggers are lazy, don’t bother me with facts.

  26. says

    I honestly can’t agree. There is malice behind the people who are acting “stupid.” It’s not “stupid”, it’s ignorance. Willful ignorance. People just prefer that “reality.”.

  27. rorschach says

    Not everyone can go to university, some are not smart enough, some don’t have the money. On the other hand, a lot of uni students I knew were RWNJ, uninformed and unable of any critical thinking, and ended up as, I dont know, orthopedic surgeons earning a fortune. “Stupid” is not the problem here. Critical thinking is the issue, and that can be done by anyone. But it needs to be taught.