Thursday, August 14, 2014

Only stupid people call people stupid

My Paper, Thursday, August 14, 2014, Page A9, Opinion
From http://epaper.mypaper.sg/emnd/fvxen/fvxp/fvxpress.php?param=2014-08-14
Source Website: http://mypaper.sg/opinion/only-stupid-people-call-people-stupid-20140814
By Megan Mcardle, mypaper, Bloomberg, Published on Aug 14, 2014


Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
PHOTO: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
Proving you are smart is a pointless endeavour (unless you are looking for a job)
Posted by 'About Me' on February 11, 2013   
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SIncCS-Dbp8/U-wOMgNorSI/AAAAAAAAcdM/2XVNCFSEJls/s1600/Stupidity-1.jpg
http://richmondmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Stupidity.jpg
http://apologeticallyme.wordpress.com/tag/sewing/



PAUL Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, likes to call people stupid liars. Laurence Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University, gets a little mad about it, but Noah Smith, an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, says he should not.

In the end, I think people overreact to the "stupid" insult because, as a society, we use arguments the wrong way.

We tend to treat arguments like debate competitions - two people argue in front of a crowd, and whoever wins gets the love and adoration of the crowd, and whoever loses goes home defeated and shamed.

I guess that is better than seeing arguments as threats of physical violence, but I still prefer the idea of arguing as a way to learn, to bounce ideas off other people.

Proving you are smart is a pointless endeavour (unless you are looking for a job), and is an example of what Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, calls a "fixed mindset".

It is a noble sentiment, but I have to side with Prof Kotlikoff on this one: We should not call people stupid.

And when other people resort to name-calling, we should discourage them by expressing public disapproval, because calling people stupid... makes people stupid.

I mean, I agree with Dr Smith on one point; it does not particularly bother me when people call me stupid.

Either it is true or it is not, and if it is not, I revise my opinion of the speaker downwards and move on, though possibly not until after several further downgrades.

On the other hand, it took me a long time to get to the point where I did not mind that strangers were yelling at me on the Internet, and I recognise that my attitude is not normal.

Most people get mad when you say they are stupid, and when they are mad, they are not listening. Neither is anyone else who likes the person you just said was stupid. So, congratulations: In one fell swoop, you have guaranteed that no one who disagrees with you will hear a word that you are saying.

Ultimately, calling people stupid is simply a performance for the fellow travellers in your audience.

It is a way that we can all come together and agree that we do not have to engage with some argument, because the person making it is a bovine lackwit without the basic intellectual equipment to come in out of the rain. So the first message it sends - "do not listen to opposing arguments" - is a stupid message that is hardly going to make anyone smarter.

The second message it sends is even worse: "If he is stupid, then we, who disagree with him, are the opposite of stupid, and can rest steady in the assurance of our cognitive superiority."

Feeding your own arrogance is an expansive, satisfying feeling. It is also the feeling of you getting stupider.

I am always fascinated by the number of people who proudly build columns, tweets, blog posts or Facebook posts around the same core statement: "I do not understand how anyone could (oppose legal abortion/support a carbon tax/sympathise with the Palestinians over the Israelis/want to privatise Social Security/insert your pet issue here)."

It is such an interesting statement, because it has three layers of meaning.

The first layer is the literal meaning of the words: I lack the knowledge and understanding to figure this out.

But the second, intended meaning is the opposite: I am such a superior moral being that I cannot even imagine the cognitive errors or moral turpitude that could lead someone to such obviously wrong conclusions.



I lack the knowledge and understanding to figure this out
PHOTO: I lack the knowledge and understanding to figure this out
Posted in [For everyone who hates the question: 'So, how is it still in school?'] on 6 February 2014
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YHAWAxmI6UA/U-wOMqlnY_I/AAAAAAAAcdI/BuoQ0Sh4V8c/s1600/1901386_10152136121973956_609989146_n-1.jpg
http://sphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t1.0-9/1901386_10152136121973956_609989146_n.jpg
http://nl-nl.facebook.com/pages/Ik-haat-de-vraag-Hoe-is-het-op-school/83443838955



And yet, the third, true meaning is actually more like the first: I lack the empathy, moral imagination or analytical skills to attempt even a basic understanding of the people who disagree with me.

In short, "I am stupid." Something that few people would ever post so starkly on their Facebook feeds.

To me, calling other people stupid is simply a variant of this.

Calling other people stupid is, of course, a great deal of fun - who does not like that giddy, expansive feeling, or the admiration of our ideological compatriots? But crack cocaine is also a lot of fun (I hear). It is still bad for you, and you should not do it.

While we are all discussing our fantastic intellectual powers, we are not considering the possible weaknesses in our own argument or figuring out how to address them.

And of course we are widening the partisan divide that already makes this great nation of ours (the United States) very difficult to govern effectively.

So we should just say no to the use of "stupid" in public debate - and say "bad form" to the people who use it.

By Megan Mcardle, mypaper, Bloomberg, Published on Aug 14, 2014


 So we should just say no to the use of 'stupid' in public debate - and say 'bad form'
PHOTO: So we should just say no to the use of 'stupid' in public debate - and say 'bad form'
Posted by Svetlay on February 17, 2014
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8B1oAkjGe6o/U-wOMn1DjxI/AAAAAAAAcdE/L3lmKJFITeE/s1600/1392609591_007.jpg
http://kaifolog.ru/uploads/posts/2014-02/1392609591_007.jpg
http://kaifolog.ru/pozitiv/5245-golubi-60-foto.html




Reference