Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Conventional Ignorance (Common Stupidity) gets me Frustrated.

It’s painfully obvious that our American culture, as portrayed by the mass media, prides in stupidity. There is virtually nothing high brow in popular culture. It’s tacitly assumed that intellectualism is not a virtue, but rather a pretentious endeavor that lies outside of practical life. Most consider ignorance to be bliss, which stops them from wanting to expand their intellect. It’s my contention that we as humans are naturally built to use and advance our intellects. I believe the lie that most humans are dumb or not intellectual is one of the biggest factors impeding our cultural and social advancement from resembling our technological progress.

Sadly, one of the biggest examples of the acceptance of ignorance is in schools. For instance, in most schools the learning that takes place is narrowly focused on what it needed to pass. Retaining information is not important for most students; they just want to know how to pass. Many professors don’t help this trend; they, by expecting this attitude form their students, makes them adopt the same attitude and it corrupts their style of teaching. They start to only teach enough so the students can pass. The idea of idle curiosity and the motivation to learn for wonder and understanding is lost. It’s replaced with a mass rush toward the goal of a degree with no attention paid to what happened prior to receiving it. This appalling vicious cycle is ruining the educational sphere of activity and marginalizing it. The result: people who are willfully ignorant and proud of it. They mask their unawareness with vague notions of practicality and “getting to the point of things”. Well, if all they care for is the end and not the means, and death is the ultimate end, then what stops them from suicide? I am being funny, but I digress. The key idea is that acceptance of the ignorant lifestyle is shocking when we consider that one of its biggest factors is the institution created for opening up the mind and intellect. What irony!

One may argue that being ignorant is some kind or right and should be respected. Well I don’t and here's why I think no one should as well: we live in a democracy (its enough of a democracy that politicians use it in their speeches when justifying invading foreign countries). As a citizen, one must be informed and mentally keen to ensure the right policies and representatives are running correctly- that’s why we have a media that informs us and why we have the right to vote. So one can see how in a democracy, intellectualism is a mandate. Without it, how would we be able to make wise decisions in deciding and evaluating the government and its actions? Intellectualism is not a pretentious activity; it is our duty to ensure a proper and civilized society.

No animal spends as much time in a childhood stage as humans do, about 20 years. This is to guarantee a prolonged education. As humans, our greatest ability is the mind and not anything purely physical. What makes us the most adaptive species on the planet is our ability to make tools. Tool use is a function of the mind. If we spent more time cultivating our minds, we would be using more of our innate potential as humans. This would be the most efficient way of maximizing our natural capabilities. Almost all great inventions that helped humans were discovered or invented as apart of idle curiosity or wonder and awe which drives one to know more and further their mental development. This fact is evidence that following intellectual interests is not ultimately pretentious as it benefits humanity as a whole. We are hardwired to learn and increase our intellect.

All these points touch upon the idea that it is very natural and appropriate for humans to increase their intellect. They do it so they can maximize their intrinsic potential and serve the greater good through conscious participation in government and society. It’s a shame that out culture reinforces ignorance and youthful stupidity as valuable and acceptable aspects of human behavior. Children are indoctrinated with media as they grow up. They are taught to think learning is detrimental to their sanity and livelihood. They try to keep education at a slight minimum, when the mockery is that education is continuous throughout all of life. It’s better to prepare for that with a healthy intellect.