Fandango’s Provocative Question #15


This week’s provocative question is based on a quote by Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Whew, that’s a lot of credentials. Anyway, Russell, who died in 1970, suggested that…

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubts.”

I’m so old I actually remember Bertrand Russell. I found him occasionally profound, sometimes funny … and other times, wrong.

I suppose my problem is that I don’t like generalizations. Generalizations sound true, but once you scrape off the icing, you discover there’s nothing there. It was all icing.

Twp different red finches

What I know is that there is an avalanche of stupidity and it isn’t one side or the other. There’s a lot of stupid going around. Stupid Trumpidians, stupid Democrats, stupid people who don’t care about any of the stuff that makes us crazy. I think maybe the most stupid people are neither full of doubts or cocksure, but apathetic. They really don’t care. They don’t know what’s going on and they aren’t interested in finding out.

So my answer is that there are far, far too many stupid people. Cocksure ones who are stupid. Doubtful people who are equally stupid. Apathetic people who are the dumbest of all.

Tang dynasty astrological figures

Being smart isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Many years ago, I realized having a high IQ only meant you got great results on IQ tests. It doesn’t mean anything outside the classroom where you are taking the test except to make everyone tell you that you are “under-achieving.”

I never really understood that.

I was achieving what I wanted to achieve and not bothering with stuff in which I had no interest. It wasn’t under-achieving. I was doing what I wanted to do.

But they never got it. No one but my fellow under-achieving genius friends got it. We used to laugh about our youthful under-achievements.

Woodpecker — but which one?

So I’m not stupid but honestly? I’m not exactly sure what being smart has actually gotten me or how I’ve improved the world. Maybe the stupid ones have it right. Ignore the whole thing and eventually, it will go away.

Maybe stupid is a better choice.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all plus a big helping of cynicism.

9 thoughts on “STUPID, INSECURE, OR DISINTERESTED? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of the words “ignorance is bliss.” Does being uninformed or unaware give people a false sense of optimism? Do stupid people sleep better at night? Are they happier? Is there any truth to “what you don’t know won’t hurt you?”


    1. False sense of optimism? Probably not, but it is like locking all the doors and pulling down the shades and hoping by the time you open them, whatever was wrong has gotten better. And amazingly, sometimes it works. The ignorers of events are often the winners. Eventually, “things” go back to normal, or sort of normal, whatever normal is or used to be. There’s an article in today’s “New Yorker” about what Brexit is doing in the U.K. If you get The New Yorker, read it. The parallels are obvious and terrifying. The causes are similar. But here’s a case where you CAN’T ignore it. This is, as John Oliver put it, a generational disaster. It will destroy the economy not just now but for years to come. It is effectively destroying both traditional parties. Everything is just BROKEN. Here, at least we can hope the next (or the next-next) election will change the government.

      Stupid? Look at the fractured Democratic party and talk about stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

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