Pat's View: Wallowing in ignorance
By Patrick Robinson
If you’ve paid attention at all to the last few year of political discourse and in the past year to the discussion about the pandemic one thing should have stood out.
A lot of people don’t know very much. This is not to say that they don’t think they do. On the contrary. Social media in all its variants from Facebook to Twitter to the ill fated Parler and comment sections on countless websites has empowered people of every level of intelligence and education to be equal in voice.
On every topic from politics to education, to sports to wearing a mask to stop the spread of a disease that has taken half a million lives, people feel the need to spout their belief.
It’s rare however to find people in positions of leadership, higher education, or power engaging in these forums. Why?
Because they actually know better.
The ignorant folks are to be pitied in a way. Their predicament has been described as the Dunning-Kruger effect which is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence.
But it might be possible to pierce that particular bubble of stupidity and a few others through a simple exercise in logic.
The ignorant and incompetent among us don’t do this of course but if they did it MIGHT dawn on them that their foundational beliefs are wrong and the opinions and behavior that flows from them are often exponentially flawed.
Let’s take Teacher’s Pay for example.
The Program for International Student Assessment tests 15-year-old students around the world and is administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2018, when the test was last administered, the U.S. placed 11th out of 79 countries in science. It did worse in math, ranking 30th.
In fact he U.S. scored 478 in math, below the average of 489. That's well below the scores of the top five, all of which were Asian nations.
If we agree that a better education for young people is a good thing to promote, and that their future and the future of the nation are both better if that’s the case… why do we pay teachers so little?
The average American teacher makes a starting salary of around $39,000 a year, and about $67,000 for a veteran teacher.
By comparison, the starting salary for a high school teacher with no experience in Luxembourg is about $70,000. To put that in perspective, minimum salary in the United States is $684 a week or $35,568 per year. Yes we pay teachers, those responsible for the future of our children and this nation just a bit more than minimum wage.
The cost of living is of course a factor in this. Luxembourg is higher than the United States. But it’s not double.
The average IQ (even though this is a flawed measurement full of cultural bias) is 98 putting us at 27th in the world.
Feeling smarter already, right?
If you are, that’s part of the problem. No matter how smart or educated you believe you are, no matter how perfect your judgement and opinions might be…the truth is you can be wrong and very often, you are.
But more than this, the people who feel the need to shout down others or loudly proclaim their demonstrably false beliefs do so with what looks like pride. They are happy to be stupid and if you point out their error it has no effect since their stupidity extends to cover that too. Being proud of stupidity is no way to go through life.
It’s probably worth mentioning that throughout history in totalitarian regimes, among the first to be put to death were the intellectuals. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge killed teachers and even people who simply wore glasses. In Russia, Josef Stalin conducted the Great Purge in which the educated and artists were eliminated. Clearly, those who cling to a set of false beliefs will do so to the point of imprisoning others or even death.
Before you make a comment on social media about why your belief is superior to someone else’s, pause. There’s a very real chance the source of your anger is based on ignorance.