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Stupidity is the Essence of Life
Life is hard, Life isn't Fair, Life is full of thorns. These are the lessons we have been taught by books and elders. When we get old and have lived a great deal of life we teach our young ones the same lessons. Life is unfair for sure, but ever wondered why it is so?
Ever wondered how stupid people end up ruling the world whereas many smart people end up being nobody?
Not so long ago, in 1995, a man walked into two Pittsburgh banks and robbed them in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise and ran away. Later that night, videos from surveillance cameras were broadcasted on TV news and he was arrested within an hour after the broadcast. When he was showed those videos during investigation, he mumbled "But I wore the juice". Apparently, he thought that rubbing lemon juice on his face makes his face invisible to cameras. This event inspired two psychologists; David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the department of psychology at Cornell University. They devised an experiment based on this event to see how people perceive their own intelligence. Results of this experiment explained the reason of dominance of stupidity in world.
In a nutshell, stupid people think they are intelligent and know it all because they are too stupid to realize they are stupid (blissful unawareness). One the other hand, intelligent people realize that they can't know and understand everything so they consider themselves stupid. So objectively, everyone is opposite of what they think of themselves. This was named as Dunning-Kruger effect.
Now let’s consider a society without Dunning-Kruger effect where people have true knowledge of their and other people's competencies. It's a society where democracy prevails and everyone is treated merit wise. Imagine what will be the hierarchy of such society. Ofcource, the smartest people will be on top and the most stupid ones on the bottom. In a perfect world, this would be a perfect society. If humans were rational beings, then everyone would be happy in such society, even the most stupid person. But humans aren’t completely rational beings. There is an irrational part in man which makes him happy, sad, loved or hated for reasons beyond logic. That’s why stupid people would feel that this (perfect) world isn’t fair. To make sure this merit-wise allocation of power doesn’t happen in real world, chaos exists.
Recipe of randomness
Since we always underestimate or overestimate ours and other’s competencies, we pretty much rely on ingredient of randomness in selection of kings and queens. As a result, neither smart nor stupid people can always be in power. Paradoxically, chaos helps in achieving a balance in ownership of power. It’s a natural way of maintaining the equilibrium between stupidity and intelligence. There are and there will be stupid people in power from time to time. Even democracy can’t beat it.
“Ignorance can be cured but stupidity is forever.” - Aristophanes
Research on heritability of IQ infers, a kid’s IQ is average between the parents and whole population average IQ. And theory of evolution by natural selection suggests that the best variation among the individuals survives. Following these two postulates we can infer that in a world without chaos and Dunning-Kruger effect, intelligent people will be in power thus have more chances to survive and after many generations, average IQ of whole population will rise considerably. This means after many generations, every human would be a genius. This is actually happening (see Flynn effect) but not so significantly. For thousands of years, humans have almost the same average IQ, just because sometimes stupid ones are the ones with power and thus they are the ones who survive.
Pattern of chaos
It sounds like an oxymoron, but some great thinkers, philosophers and physicists think randomness does have a pattern (means it doesn’t exist at all) but it is far above our current understanding of nature. According to historians, some civilizations were better than us at recognizing important natural patterns. There is the famous tale of biblical magi who knew before time who is going to be the next King of Jews. Let’s not delve so back in past, I think if we study a grand slice of time, we can intuitively predict what’s going to happen next. That’s what Noam Chomsky did six years ago. He said:
“The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen. Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”
- via Fahad Alhazmi
It seems like Chomsky knew before time that it’s time for stupidity to be in power.
© 2016 Abdul Rehman