I have lived over seven decades and I am shocked at discovering, all of a sudden, and with proof, that a whole huge population of humane beings are utterly stupid. I have run into this view quite a few times by my acquaintances and friends saying this to me on occasion. They refer to this or that group in foreign countries. Let me be a bit more specific with one example that does not represent what my friends have told me but a singular instance, in this country, that really stands out in my mind. I go to a gym almost every day and the major makeup of the people who go to that gym are conservative, meaning they are a mixture of Republican and Libertarian. One person who is a friend of mine utterly refuses to believe in global warming. If you don’t believe in global warming, this blog post is about you. Well this guy cherry picks his examples from the most obscure Internet sources to try and verify his points. I could not figure out why someone who is in most every other way intelligent is so stupid about this subject. His family history sort of puts a light upon it.
Fast forward to March 2015, at COSTCO, I picked up the National Geographic magazine issue with the title “The War On Science” by Joel Achenbach. I open to page 30 and see the huge words “The Age Of Disbelief”. The article is a shock for me to read but at the same time a comfort that this mystery is explained of why some people seem so stupid. I really recommend this issue for you to read. The article is well written and makes a lot of very interesting points.
Here are some, not all, of the key points that I found interesting. I am drawn in these points because I am currently writing about why there are terrorists coming out of the Middle East and these points seem to explain part of that problem:
- Personal experience trumps the facts. My friend, who refuses to accept global warming, had a father that hated unions because the union bosses were crooks. His father’s attitude toward politics may have tainted the son’s views. Thus, his father’s experience may have became his. Parents have a tremendous influence upon their children.
- We look for evidence that confirms what we already believe. My friend would peruse the Internet trying to find justification for his preconceived notions about global warming. I found it quite amusing at his resourcefulness at finding “facts” that supported his beliefs.
- “Our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with your peers”. Wow. That was a surprise for me to take in. The author seems to extrapolate this premise from a study by Dan Kahan of Yale University. This sort of makes sense because I am really struck by reading the importance of tribalism in the Middle East. Tribalism appears to be one principal factor holding a whole host of nations backward and this is why this article seems important to my understanding of the Middle East problem.
In summary, the article tells us that reason and truth is secondary to our emotions, how we feel about a subject. It may seem that global warming denial and Middle East terrorism may have similar roots because both go against well thought out inspection and arguments. Stupid does rule for some people.