Friday, April 17, 2015


I had to do a really quick blog post on this--because this is infuriating me! One thing I've noticed—time and time again—on facebook, in casual conversation, on various websites, in comments and in so many discussions is a very common phrase “Why are there so many stupid people?” or “Why are people so stupid?”. 

These kinds of expressions have become so old I want to throttle the person saying them. I wish for once that someone would post something like, “Why am I so stupid?” It would be quite shocking and interesting for change.  Everyone seems to think that everyone else is stupid (or, at least most others who don’t think exactly as they do) but not them. Kind of like how Christians think that everyone else is going to hell but not them. This is the exact same mentality. I’m getting tired of it and found another blog on this.


  1. Granted, it is common hearing people say this and yes it can be annoying. Maybe it has to do with people’s expectations on how every adult should be. Then when those expectations are broken you sum it up as "Why everybody stupid is/an idiot/dumbass etc."
    Granted, I came to that thought from time to time (It comes naturally to those working in retail). Maybe with all that goes around in our daily complicated lives we sum things up to often and with people we disagree with at an extreme level we call them stupid. We usually express this around those in circles that agree with one another (reinforce tribalism at a subconscious level?).

    So, now that you brought this up, let see if we can improve this. Instead of saying they are stupid, let’s try to at least imagine the conversation were where you try to present alternative views and parallels to give them a better understanding. I found that so many people try to be dichotomous in thing (these people are either this or that, period). I try, when I can to tell them "Well, they could also be this due to these reasons or that for these reasons." Then explain how we may not have all the information to make a straightforward answer to the problem. If one can, think like a lawyer and present things like reasonable doubt.

    "They may have done 'x' for the reason that you said but the same thing could also be done because of this reason."

    I found out that doing this make people go "Huh, Never thought of it that way." And that could be one step in helping people think further into other peoples actions and thoughts.

    Well, that's on method, anyone else have another idea?

  2. It's not that they are stupid. We know, from multiple studies, that political conservatives, on the average have a larger amygdala and a smaller anterior cortical cingulate than liberal progressives. I suspect this also correlates with religiosity.

    The amygdala is the seat of emotion in the brain, especially disgust, which is known to be strong in conservatives, and fear, which is a strong factor in many religions. But the anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that resolves conflicting information - the part that, upon reading or hearing something, wakes up and says "Hang on a minute - that can't be right! Because I already know such-and-such. . .". I colloquially refer to it as the Bullshit Detector.

    If the political conservatives and religious have a small ACC, then it simply doesn't trigger when they are confronted with contradictions in their political positions or in religious beliefs. It's not that they are stupid, it's just that they never even stop to think about these things. In fact, they are quite capable of believing two contradictory things simultaneously, as their ACC blissfully sleeps on.

    If the ACC stirs, causing them a twinge of doubt, it can easily be resolved by using social connections (i.e. the church, for religion) or media and online networks (e.g. Fox News and other selected media) to confirm that others believe the same things, so it must be OK. And so tribalism is born. Should the ACC be a bit more active, triggering cognitive dissonance, this is resolved by regarding sources of contradictory information to not be credible (e.g. left-wing commentators _lie_).

    On the other hand, my BS detector seems to be permanently in the yellow and quite often pegs over to the red - my ACC must be something amazing. But at least I have an answer to my brain's persistent questioning: "How on earth can people believe that crap?". It's not that they're stupid - they just have an underfunctional BS Detector.

    1. Are you afraid that with your ACC on a fixed setting that may com to problems in the long run? For instance, detecting BS in everything you listen to leaving you in a constant state of doubt to things that would be obviously true?

    2. Oh, no - I only detect BS in BS; it's just that there is so much of it out there. Fortunately, it's easy enough to ignore. Others, obviously, aren't as lucky.

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    4. I figure there might be cognitive bias. May want to be sure in a double blind test. Watch your step.

    5. You can't go through life running double-blind studies - you have to trust your own judgement. But let's just try one example, from my G+ feed this morning:

      There's cognitive bias there, all right - but at least I didn't step in it.

    6. Dammit, John, it's not "fair enough" - that's a satire site! You've got to stop taking things at face value, dude. ;)

    7. Oh I got the satire. The satire was in the web address. I just figured you go about it your own way with it. No harm done I hope?

  3. Oh, and Renee - "Everyone seems to think that everyone else is stupid (or, at least most others who don’t think exactly as they do) but not them." c.f. Fundamental Attribution Error.