You’re an idiot.
I know it, your friends know it — everyone knows it. It’s all anyone talks about (behind your back, naturally).
And deep down, you know it too.
But you’re in good company. I’m an idiot too.
We all are.
Every one of us has intellectual blind spots, or gaping holes in our knowledge that make us, well, dumb.
Here are 3 reasons why you’re a complete and total moron.
Also, you’re welcome.
1. Your Head’s Up Your Ass, You Ideological Zealot
Hate to break it to you, but you’re an idiotic ideologue.
Yes, I know you went to university (and god help anyone who calls it a mere “college”).
Yes, I know you have an advanced degree in something prestigious-sounding.
And yes, I’m well aware you consume your news from a variety of sources, from the Daily Wire to the Washington Post (because you think consuming opposing viewpoints makes you somehow more objective).
The fact is that you spend your life imbibing the thoughts of others, consuming copious quantities of secondary sources, without ever thinking things through for yourself.
You’re a walking, talking, intellectual Etch-A-Sketch — you haven’t had an original thought since you were a kid for God’s sake.
It’s great that you can parrot Ben Shapiro’s opinions with autistic fidelity, but that’s not what independent, critical thinkers (insert whatever buzzword you like) do — that’s what lazy idiots do.
If you want to smarten up, you need to think things through for yourself — put down the paper & read a book.
Look at the facts & figures — read primary sources — not what people are saying about them.
If you did, you’d be surprised about how much bullshit the media & pseudo-intellectual professors & politicians are spewing.
Like the unemployment rate for instance. I used to take it for granted, then I got curious & did some digging.
I calculated it from scratch — it’s at least 3x higher than what we’re told.
All the data was right there, available to the public, but no one checks it — no one reads it.
Here’s my point: you never sit down and think about things, from scratch.
Do it (and do it honestly — you shouldn’t know where you’ll end up), you’ll learn more in an hour than you would reading for 10.
2. You Know All The Wrong Stuff
Here’s the deal: you know a lot of stuff.
You’ve spent a long time learning things, everything from Venetian art to astrobiology.
Maybe you know a lot about one specific thing (you’re an expert in string theory), or you know about lots of random things (you’re everyone’s favorite sounding-board).
Here’s the problem: you know all the wrong stuff.
Yes, you know a lot of facts, but what connects them together? Why are they relevant?
You don’t have a clue.
You never stopped to look at the big picture — you don’t even know what a forest is, you’re a thoroughbred tree-guy.
If you could plot your knowledge, it would look like a bunch of islands, totally disconnected — everything is domain-specific.
This isn’t very useful.
It’s better to be like Socrates: sacrifice some of your specific knowledge for a general appreciation of the process of attaining said knowledge — look at the process.
Stop reading Hegel & start practicing applied logic. Think about things, solve logic puzzles.
Learn history — contextualize your knowledge, don’t compartmentalize it.
A plastic mind that knows how to solve problems is more useful than one which has memorized as many answers as possible.
I see this all the time with philosophy students especially — they spend all their time learning about what Kant or Nietzche thought, without thinking for themselves.
They learn about philosophy, not how to do philosophy.
The takeaway point: stop learning what to think, learn how to think.
3. You Don’t Know You’re An Idiot
Half of you who’ve read this far still don’t get it — this isn’t a tongue-in-cheek joke.
I’m being serious.
You are an idiot.
Recognize it and deal with it.
Intellectual arrogance is the gravest sin one can possess — it’s what separates a truly wise man from a pretender to the throne.
If you recognize how little you know, and how dumb you are, you’ll be forever curious.
You’ll stay hungry.
Not only that, but you’ll think about things as they are, devoid of pretension or theory — you’ll be free to actually look at the facts, regardless of what “experts” tell you.
Some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met were the most well-educated.
They thought they knew it all. They never bothered to look at the data or the facts, they just assumed they knew what they were talking about. They trusted their theories.
They’re what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “intellectual yet idiots”.
They thought because they were an expert in one field, that this automatically made them an expert in all fields.
The case-in-point here is Sam Harris.
This guy studied neuroscience — suddenly he’s an expert on philosophy, religion & history.
The guy is totally out to lunch (of course, his fans, who are also idiots, don’t see it).
Anyways, drop the “I’m an expert” act and realize you’re a fool, just like the rest of us.
You’ll be the better for it (and you won’t be so damn insufferable).
Don’t worry, I’m an idiot too.
I’m such a big idiot, I wrote this article.
Nevertheless, I think we can agree on a few points.
Let’s agree that we should both try to pay more attention to the primary sources, the raw data, the facts — let’s ignore the rhetoric.
Also, let’s admit that we need to spend a little more time learning how to think, not what to think: it’s great to know stuff, but neither of us know enough about how we know stuff.
Finally, let’s agree that we’re both idiots — it’s too much work pretending to be smart anyways.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow me on Twitter (SPMorrison_ & check out my work here).