A while ago, I read a <a href="http://nslog.com/archives/2003/05/05/the_common_folk.php">post on Erik's blog</a>,
and intended to write a follow-up. Today I noticed that Jamie has posted
<a href="http://titsandwits.com/blog/past/2003/05/06/you_are_not_special_you_are_just_lucky.php">a response</a>.
Erik's post can be characterised by this extract:
These common people have less respect or understanding for grammatical structure or spelling than the computer types.
These common people have less logical skills. They seem far more easily suckered by hype and far less cynical of stuff.
I've long maintained, simply by virtue of daily observation, that the vast, vast majority of people are idiots.
Not just gullible, unquestioning, media-programmed bigots with tabloid vocabularies - rather, actually of very low
intelligence. Note please that when I say "idiot", I mean purely of low intellectual capability; I don't imply
criticism. As I will come to explain, my view is that low intelligence is one of the few things a human being can't
be held personally responsible for.
Now, it goes without saying that great chunks of our species are largely <em>uneducated</em>, or at the very least lacking
fundamental skills including reading, writing, and basic mathematics - but this is a product of social problems
and often lack of opportunity to gain appropriate education; they're not problems inherent to the human beings in
However, the bulk of humanity also seems to display a marked lack of imagination, creativity, perception, empathy,
logical capability and intuition. These are less concrete qualities, and more difficult to name as the product of
formal education. They're instead the by-products of the very wiring of a person. The greatest majority of people
seem, frankly, mentally unsophisticated. Science would have us believe this is due in large part to lack of appropriate
stimulation during the early years of critical neural pathway formation, and later due to a de-emphasis of the importance
of education. I'm not here to debate that aspect, so I'll suffice to just mention the accepted explanation.
Erik's arbitrary selection of computer programmers as a somehow "more intelligent" group is artificial, of course, and only
an example of circular reasoning, but the core point remains valid.
Jamie then leaps in the fray, and succeeds in entirely blurring the significant difference between inherent <em>intelligence</em>,
and learned skills and information (education). Jamie says:
Our proclaimed "intelligence" is a gift of society, of either tax dollars or a generous sum of money from the parents' bank account
What separates us is not intelligence, but rather circumstance.
This could be true if the aforementioned scientific explanation of lower intelligence is accepted, but then it would be true for
an entirely different reason than Jamie implies. It also rather sweeps aside questions of possible genetic intelligence, spiritual
factors, and a host of other aspects. The rest of the post breaks down into the usual "we are the world" fluff-cuddles.
So, aside from what science says, why does this state of affairs exist (as it undoubtedly does)? The secondary reason is simply
that a great deal of those "tax dollars" go into creating and maintaining it! We are actively encouraged to be stupid, and we do
it so <em>well</em>. Indeed, the art of idiocy is the field of greatest achievement of the bulk of us.
For my opinion of the primary reason, see a future post in the metaphysics category.