Blog by Author of the Macabre JZ MURDOCK "What we think, we Become" - Buddha
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Monday, June 26, 2017
Why are we sometimes so stupid when we're just not?
Age and intelligence don't always bring better judgment; this does.
By Adam Grant Ph.D.
First off, this isn't perfect, it's not meant to be. It's meant to provoke thought, to give one a way to perceive a frustrating and confusing issue. To open us up on a topic beyond not ever really even thinking about it all that much. And so we go off....
This is the perceived standard definition of how we understand all the information we take in on a daily basis. This is essentially how people think things work. We take in Information, we understand it as we can in who we are through our Wisdom, and then we end up with Greater Knowledge.
I + W = GK
But that doesn't quite cover how things actually are. There is a big difference between taking in information (the "I" in the formula) depending on if it is easy to understand, or not that much information. What we see happen all too frequently of late is this form:
I > W = GK
Information that is more than we can handle, or too complicated, with filtered through, or understood by us using our personal forms of our wisdom, does not give us Greater Knowledge. Rather it gives us confusion, which we ameliorate by rationalizing that we understood enough to make an informed decision, to have an opinion that we can not only share with others, but in many cases, demand is what is really going on. At times, even against all good sense and information to the contrary.
We watch the news or read something online and believe that we walk away with more than we had to begin with. Now being more informed and not less informed than before we took in the new information.
However, that is not always true. And why is that?
Understand, there are always outiars. But in general as a general rule, this seems to have a good deal of veracity. And the general perception after all, is similar but misconstrued. And that too bears weight on this.
Information that is in quality or quantity (typically both) less than or equal to one’s inherent (learned) wisdom, does usually lead to (or equals) gaining greater knowledge from the input of new information. Whenever we read or view new information, we tend to believe we will walk away more informed.
And yet in considering say, the 2016 US Presidential election, that does not seem to be the case. I've heard many reasons to explain why smart people would make a stupid choice in voting for Donald J. Trump. And they all fall short of explaining just what is happening. And it's happening in a lot of areas, all across the world.
So what were they thinking? What is happening? What is the common denominator?
Instant Media, for one thing. We are taking in vast amounts of information now a days and much of it is more complex than many of us realize. Not to mention much of this information is incorrect, unvetted or purposely put out to confuse and misinform. Aside from all that, exactly what is happening?
The issue is the original formula. It's not what is typically at play here. Information is not equal to or less than what we can understand. It is frequently more than we can understand, or just as important, information we have access to enough other relative or related information so that we can give it true context and understanding.
This form makes it much more usable:
I < W = GCK + PF = GK/W
INFORMATION that is in quality (or quantity) less than or equal to one’s inherent WISDOM (or in challenging one’s non verifiable perceptions (i.e., religion)) leads to (or equals) GREATER (or
enhanced) COHERENT KNOWLEDGE which is countered or enhanced by one’s PROPER FOUNDATION which equals one’s Wisdom in it also then being undercut or enhanced by the quality of one’s inherent (previously acquired) Wisdom.
And relax, a “proper” foundation does not relate to an Ivy League school or a progressive over conservative or religious education. Typically that IS true, but it just seems like what is going on. A proper foundation (or education) t is actually any one that trains and allows one to think clearly and accurately.
Obviously an improper foundation is one that trains or allows one’s thinking to be unclear and inaccurate. And yes, that too is up for debate, and mostly incorrectly. But that's another blog entirely.
What seems to be happening all too frequently and world wide, is this form:
I > W = LCK + pF = S\W
Too much or too complex (i.e., greater) INFORMATION than one’s inherent WISDOM leads to LESSER COHESIVE KNOWLEDGE which, when added to one’s POOR FOUNDATION then leads to STUPIDITY depending on how one's inherent Wisdom then interprets all that.
You'd be surprised at just how much information we receive on a daily if not hourly, or minute by minute basis, is too much information or too complex information for us to make any sense of at all.
And yet, we think we do understand it and some people delusionally believe they fully understand it. I've talked to more conservatives on that matter, who believed they fully understand things over that of progressives who seem to have a better handle on just how much we do not really understand.
Getting back to it, information that is less than or equal to one’s inherent Wisdom leads to (or equals) less (or defective) Coherent Knowledge which equals one’s Wisdom being undercut or enhanced by the quality of one’s
inherent (or previously learned) wisdom. Not to mention, learning is misunderstood by many. Simple knowing information is not "knowing" knowledge" One has to also correctly and sufficiently understand it.
If you take in more information than you can handle either due to quantity or complexity (quality), at some point it's simply too hard to understand. Mix that with a typical American (new millennium) or western consideration of what one should be able to do and understand, and this can lead to a perfect storm of misunderstanding.
Consider you are talking to a physicist and he is talking at the top of his understanding. Do you really think you know what he is talking about sufficiently to go out and explain it? Now consider a child explains to you how a tow works that they just made from scratch. Couldn't you normally go out and explain that sufficiently to others? Well that is the situation in a nutshell.
Merriam-Webster defines stupidity as: 1 "The quality or state of lacking intelligence or quickness of mind." 2 "A stupid act or idea."
In 1976 a Professor at the University of California came up with a set of five rules about stupid people. Carlo M Cipolla.
Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
Cipolla called this one the Golden Law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself.
The uncle unable to stop himself from posting fake news articles to Facebook? Stupid. The customer service representative who keeps you on the phone for an hour, hangs up on you twice, and somehow still manages to screw up your account? Stupid.
This law also introduces three other phenotypes that Cipolla says co-exist alongside stupidity. First there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. Then there is the bandit, who benefits himself at others’ expense. And lastly there is the helpless person, whose actions enrich others at his own expense. Cipolla imagined the four types along a graph, like this:
Basically I have always argued that stupidity is a chosen or selected ignorance. We are all ignorant and I've said for very long that is a noble state of being. We all have ignorance. It's selecting to remain ignorant, especially against all good sense, when you have chosen to remain ignorant and therefore are stupid. We've all seen situations where someone knew better and did something anyway and suffered for it and they were told they were stupid.
If one believes something one should always be ready to upgrade the quality of a belief. Whenever we are faced with a reason to change and refuse, we have then chosen stupidity over intelligence. Ignorance is then completely off the table, it's gone. Thus, stupidity is a chosen or selected ignorance.
IF however you are stupid by nature, if it is your make up, your DNA at issue, then you have a mental challenge and it is out of your control to make informed decisions. Labeling a person such as that as stupid then is just mean and inaccurate.
In my view to be stupid requires a conscious decision.
So, what does all that mean?
In the end it's actually kind of simple...choose not to be stupid.