What passes through my head upon reading far too many posts on Facebook:(this isn’t original; I got it from Jerry Pournelle’s blog several years ago): “I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid, so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are Trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Your writing has to be a troll. Nothing in our universe can really be this stupid. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know.”
I have become increasingly reluctant to react to stupid stuff that I see posted (though admittedly, against my better judgment, I do on occasion react and almost always end up regretting doing so). Too often the people that post things that are untrue (on the level of claiming two and two are seventy-three) simply double down and become abusive, make accusations, insist that they are right and I am evil. It’s hardly worth it anymore. I present evidence, people react by kicking it out of the way and poking me in the eye with their lies, accusing me of perfidy, and in general preferring not to be confused by the facts. In my experience, an awful lot of people enjoy their stupidity. They’d rather believe tasty lies than face painful truth; they’d rather accept simplistic explanations that soothe and reinforce their comforting point of view instead of struggling through a more complicated reality. They reject documentation, claim bias, and offer no evidence beyond a simple dismissal of what you present. Their lives seem governed by a rejection of logic, reason, and science. They think in cliches and catch phrases; those who don’t agree with their cliches and catch phrases, or question them, are automatically evil. Virtue attaches to cheering for the right team, using the right words in the right ways, being mad at those who don’t wear the team colors. They’d rather embrace logical fallacies, conspiracy theories, undocumented blathering and made up stuff devoid of evidence and truth. They are quick to accept what matches what they already believe and hate you if you demonstrate that while such and such may sound great, it simply never happened or is just not true. Just because I tell you that what you think a politician you hate did never really happened doesn’t mean I like that politician. I just think the truth matters, whether I like the truth or not, whether I agree with a politician or not. Just because I tell you that the story of an archaeological discovery never happened or has been misinterpreted and that it does not prove the Bible does not mean I hate the Bible. I just think that the truth matters and I’m genuinely puzzled that you’d rather embrace a lie instead of the truth. People go “Oh, this sounds good and matches what I think” or “Oh, this makes me mad and sounds just like the sort of thing that the people I hate would do or say” and post it without bothering to do any research. Since when did passing on gossip become a positive good?