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You hate stupid people, too, right? You know: the "joe six-packs"; the "uninformed"; the "people who should know better"; the "American Idiots."

Like all those morons in the electorate -- not just the "30% backwash," but even some "so-called progressives" are pretty numb.

You'd like to see a presidential campaign be about the real issues, for example, but all you get is "identity politics," "wedge issues," and other hysteria.

So what do you do about it? Read on, I'll tell you...

...but first let's make a list of all the "stupid people." :-)

Let's see, first there are the "sheep" -- the "herd mentality" people, who's entire survival strategy is to do what the rest of people around them are doing.

Next to them are the "followers" -- the "daddy figure" people. They don't rely on the masses, instead they seek out authority figures to tell them how to think.

Next on the chain are the "blamers" -- the "cult of personal responsibility" For every one time they make a personally responsible decision, ten times they will use their philosophical contraptions to turn their back on the responsibilities of community. Their stupidity is of the insidious subconscious rationalization variety.

Then there are the "absolutists" -- the "single issue" people, who won't budge an inch from some ideological principle with no regard for the practical consequences or reality in general. Those who want to go from A to E without going through B, C and D.

Oh yes, we must also mention the "paranoids" -- the "tin foil hat" people.  Because after all there are these "total morons" who "feel the need to see a conspiracy in every shadow."

And the "pollyannas" on the flip side -- the "pretty mind" people who dismiss anything negative as claptrap.

Could go on, but won't.

It is just scary that so many of these people exist.

Until you realize they don't.

At least not in the numbers you've been led to believe.

At some point, you overdid it. Maybe it was the media, sensationally reporting the actions of some of the stupider people, making them larger than life. Maybe it was reality TV, hand-picking nut-jobs and pretending they were normal people.

Maybe you just lost hope under a presidency that seemed torn straight out of a 60s political satire. Maybe you were told you were special too much as a kid. Maybe you despair at the crumbling educational system.

Maybe you have our own defining event, an injustice in the workplace, for example. Maybe this has all been going on much, much longer than you've been alive. Maybe it is just that the true fruitcakes tend to be rather more loud and draw disproportionate amounts of attention.

Don't know. Doesn't matter.

What matters is that while there are some very, very stupid people in the world, there are almost definitely less of them than you think. The "are you smarter than a" TV shows and the occasional "lots of people believe in ghosts" surveys are really not something you should be judging the overall merit of our population's minds with. Nor is Sanjaya, Nip and Tuck, Entourage, or Trailer Park Boys.

Plenty of people have their peculiarities and escapisms, it does not make them deficient on every level. Those very same people that fell for the PMRC "devil music" tripe in the 80s -- some of them were probably pretty darn good teachers, technicians, administrators, accountants. People have their "smart points" too.

Clue #1: The answer, my friend, has more to do with the first two words of this diary -- "You hate" -- than the second two words -- "stupid people."

More appreciation of other people's smart points, please, rather than myopically focusing on their stupid points.

People get treated more poorly than they deserve as a direct result of this.

A glaring example: only a tiny handful of true "conspiracy nuts" actually exist, but what do they get when they go online to air their grievances? From their perspective, not yours. All they see is ridicule, ostracism, and confirmation of their worst fears that there is no reasonable explanation for what bugs them -- just vitriol, mockery, and personal attacks from so-called rational people who demand hard evidence... hypocrites who hold themselves to a lower standard by making their demands in a baselessly derogatory tone in order to intimidate their viewpoint forward.

That gets us nowhere.

Clue #2: It actually takes work -- introspection, proofreading, and fine temper -- to be a bastion of reason. If you think it comes naturally to you just because you managed to pull it off once or twice, you are deluded.

The real imaginary figment, though, are the 99 other people you assume are conspiracy nuts just because they are not also bashing the conspiracy nuts with glee, and are instead talking to them, agreeing with a few side-points, entertaining the occasional hypothetical, but probably not the whole narrative. You don't care. They're all just nuts.

Just like the Internet is all a bunch of geek kids in pajamas. (Guess the avarage age of a kossak -- well some of you will not be surprised to know it is quite old. Guess the average age of a DUer. Just about the same. That may be more of a surprise.)

So you trounce on out to do rhetorical battle online with the occasional worthy adversary with the "legion of morons" biting at your ankles like so many annoying gnats. Except there is no legion of morons. Not on dkos. They are all over on facebook comparing cosmetics -- political blogs are soooooo last never.

So much time is spent arguing for the sake of these "lurkers" -- the passive browsers spying on us from their living rooms to see what other people think. Those people at least do exist, and in abundance. No, the kiddies are still over on facebook uploading pics of their body piercings. Even the lurkers here are a lot older and wiser than you probably give them credit for, which is sad, because here again you are up to your old "tricks."

In your mind the lurkers are stupid and need to be "tricked" into thinking the right things. Worse yet, your fellow posters just do not seem to realize how dumb lurkers are and how careful you have to be to not give lurkers leeway to misinterpret things, because they will. They also seem to be completely incapable of understanding that posting something on a web site does not mean it is endorsed by that website.

Entirely in your mind.

Lets take a look at one of these tricks, shall we, so everyone knows exactly how many of our threads get written.

  1. You read just a subject line and maybe gloss over a few paragraphs of a diary, and make up your mind what you want to say.
  1. You then go fingering through comments until you find one that vaguely constitutes an opinion to the contrary (or if you cannot find that, at least one that offers a point for segue.)
  1. Without any regard to properly interpreting that to which you are responding, plop your "cargo" down there. Because after all, it does not matter what the person you are replying to actually thinks, the important thing is what the lurkers see.

Then you dare to wonder why all the morons replying to you misinterpret what you just said.

And there are all the little rhetorical tricks: Pretend to be arguing about one thing (just pull out some tired and inconsequential counterpoint) so that you can, as an aside, casually assert something you want other people to believe as a matter of fact, "under the radar."

Clue#3: No, that probably doesn't work and no, it isn't OK when you do it here just because Pat Robertson does it on TV.

You end up talking past each other, not to each other, all for the sake of a bunch of lurkers who you assume (without any solid evidence) are total morons and in need of your wisdom and direction.

Then you dare to complain when the same thing happens in a televised primary debate.

Those who think "people are stupid" are those most to blame for the campaigns then proceeding to treat people like they are, indeed, stupid. The focus groups that try to find out where peoples "buttons" are rather than what they think and need. The "horse race" metaphor. The push polls. The conniving pundit verbal trickery. The gerrymandering and polling place manipulation. The "dodging of the question."

All that stems from a fundamental disrespect for "stupid people," otherwise known as "your fellow citizens."

Clue#4: "Governing by opinion poll" would not be so horrible a thing if the right questions got asked for a change.

Even worse, this is a core rationale for society as whole -- our laws, our policies, our culture, our crime -- treating "the population" like cattle. The con-artists. The thieves. The bald-faced administration lies. The fake news. The decoy news. The manufactured consent. The information saturation bombing and advertising. The war against referendums. The total disregard for the will of the voters.

You have spread your infectious misanthropy so far and wide that it pervades our culture. No one thinks anything can be done on its merits by free choice. Now everything has to happen at the end of a cattle-prod.

And once you've good with the cattle prod, might as well keep them stupid.

So you meet the enemy and it is you.

Your fault.

Maybe you'll think about that the next time you start to get your elite on.

But probably not.

Originally posted to skids on Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 04:24 PM PST.



The "stupid people" problem can be solved:

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