Why you and everyone around you is stupid Pt 1: Why?

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When you surf the waves of information and content in the US you’re left with one inescapable reality.  People are stupid.  They’re stupid as individuals and as groups.  People look at congress and say, “there’s a collection of idiots and morons.  How on earth did that happen.”  Then you look to their cheering constituents and say “Oh.  That’s right.  People are stupid”.  You see pop stars and celebrities doing stupid things and then the ravenous hordes eating up the scandal and humiliation.  You look around you and you see people acting out, making poor decisions, demanding things counter to their own self-interest and more.  So much more.  Even if you could sit one of them down and say, “THIS IS A POOR DECISION!”  That person would calmly inform you that, yes they, in fact, know this is a poor decision but that they are going to go through with it anyway and that if you were really their friend you’d support them in this.  And you do because you’re stupid too.

Why?  Why are people so stupid?  Because of their brains.  Thinking is new for brains.  You don’t even have to go back hundreds of thousands or millions of years to find the beginning of human thinking.  We’re probably talking decades and centuries, not millennia and eons.  Non-stupidity is a relatively recent development and we’re still clearly working on it as a species.  The problem is the human brain isn’t dedicated to logic and philosophy, art or culture, science and technology or any of the fancy thinking that is the bedrock of civilization.  The brain is dedicated to only survival and anything else is just extra. Vast swaths of the human brain are dedicated to sensory input and processing, movement, and maintaining autonomic functions.  We have higher brain functions of course that can process sentience and emotions but they’re still dedicated to a primitive reward and punishment paradigm  designed to keep you alive.  In fact, the human brain seeks reward so intensely that it will self-destruct in this pursuit.  It’s not logical.  It’s neurochemical.  We’re good at survival, and we’re astonishingly bad at anything else.

Consider a simple calculation.  7×8  How long did it take you to solve it?  A second or two? More? Less? Not even trying and also a little annoyed with me for asking you to do math while being pretentious about it? If it helps the people who knew the answer quickly didn’t calculate the answer. They already had it memorized.  The point is that as sophisticated as our brain is, it doesn’t even have something so monumentally simple as a calculator.  We had to resort to memory which is something else that humans are shockingly bad at.  I mean we’ve had simple mechanical calculators for almost 400 years.  We can build calculators today that are just a few tiny electrical circuits. You’d think we could spare a few neuronal circuits for something as simple as that?  Why not? because it’s not really immediately useful for survival.  And it’s not as if your brain can’t do sophisticated math.  Math forms the basis of your entire existence, from how you move, to how you pinpoint objects in three-dimensional space, and so much more that we’re only just now finding out about.  So yes, the brain can do wondrous math, but has no calculator.  It’s a mystery.  Proof if proof was needed that there is no god or else he might have added a few touches that would be awesome for a civilized society.   The point is that this is why people are stupid.  We’re really good at analyzing fight/flight situations.  We’re even pretty good at survival oriented social skills.  But we’re bad at setting aside emotions and doing the kinds of things that help us be better persons, advance humanity, or even help us not be complete and utter jerks.  It even works the other way around too.  Our brains are lousy at helping us be angels and saints, or even just ok guys keeping ourselves to ourselves.  And if you don’t think your social interactions are survival issues think again.  We’re hard-wired to form social connections even if some of us are a little defective in that regard.  (By the way, just kidding about the ‘no god’ thing.)

We’re still used to thinking in this kind of emotionally centric place.  It colors everything we do.  From big and small life choices, to how we interact with individuals on a day-to-day basis, down to our very opinions.  Talk to people who have passionate political positions.  They’re not thinking rationally about them.  They have no interest in rationality.  Any stray opinion that doesn’t support their firmly established world view is seen as threatening and you are clearly brainwashed.  Your “evidence” is nonsense, and you are what’s going to destroy the country through ignorance if not outright maliciousness.  These people are stupid.  If you want an interesting political discussion you have to talk to that person who’s just interested in the subject to be informed, but not so much as they really care.  But the really passionate ones are stupid because they’ve never really developed the necessary intellectual skills to be anything other than primitive atavistic creatures stuck in the 21st century where thinking is just getting it’s start.  I am most explicitly NOT stating that we have no choice.  We do.  We’re just not very good at it.  Hence, everyone is stupid.  I don’t want to say emotions are bad.  I’ve never said this, and I’ll never say it.  But the punishments and rewards that we get from our emotional states are clearly a contributing factor to outright stupidity.  The future won’t be emotionless ala Spock or Data, but I don’t think they’ll be quite so overwhelming either.  Until then everyone will be stupid.


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