Sunday, November 6, 2011

Culpable ignorance

Alan Jacobs:
I have been thinking a lot about stupidity lately, largely, I suppose, because I spend a good deal of time online. I define stupidity as “remediable but unremedied ignorance,” and few human traits are more evident to a reader of your average website. It is relatively easy to discover that Barack Obama is not a Muslim; that the government of Israel was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks; that the Christian God does not hate fags; that your average everyday evangelical Christian is not simply itching for his chance to take over the government and impose theocratic law upon a nation of vile unbelieving reprobates. Yet people who could remedy their ignorance on these and many other matters consistently fail to do so. This is curious and significant.

Now, many people who hold wrong—even bizarrely wrong—views are not stupid. We do not all possess the means to remedy our ignorance. Throughout the world there are people who are badly educated, who have been taught many untrue things by the only authorities they know, and who have little or no opportunity to check up on those supposed facts. But a great many are culpably ignorant, who, because they do not take the trouble to investigate their beliefs and assess their accuracy, are also (according to my definition) stupid. .... [more]
Alan Jacobs: Against Stupidity