The Age of Stupid

Humans are better at rationalizing irrational decisions than making rational decisions.

This is the Age of Stupid.

This is not a cynical rant or lament at the explosion of stupidity in our society.

It is critical to accept and understand that we live in an Age of Stupid, what caused it, and how it affects us, and what can we do about it.

Ignorance, arrogance, incompetence and even downright stupidity are very common. However, it is not an impediment to success in modern life. It might even be an asset. We see it all around us in successful people.

Mediocre and stupid people are popular. They fit right in our society. They also appear to be fun as their trivial low-status humor appeals to others. Their conversation seems interesting to most people, and people feel comfortable with them, and relate to them.

It is important to understand that in an Age of Stupid, success can be random and arbitrary. Success today is a numbers game and relies on luck. Well-prepared people are more likely to be lucky, but un-prepared are just as likely to be lucky. Luck isn't in your hands. All we can do is be aware and be well prepared.

Successful people might be successful because of one trait which is arbitrarily desirable. For example, knowledge of economics is prized more than knowledge of electronics. Economists are paid significantly more than engineers. It is an arbitrary distinction. It is not based on their value to us or society or even their employers.

The vast majority of people know the brand ambassador of their TV show or brand, but don't know the farmer who grows food for their children. Why do we idolize brand ambassadors and news readers over farmers?

As the reader, you probably can name 10 actors and actresses, or celebrities. Can you name 3 scientists, or 3 intellectuals or 3 philosophers, or 3 Nobel Prize winners in your country?

It is the arbitrary nature of success that brought about the Age of Stupid. Friends and partners are chosen arbitrarily making them popular and 'successful'. Important decisions are made arbitrarily.

Humans are better at rationalizing irrational decisions than making rational decisions.

It is ironic that scientists and other people with years of training to think rationally don't think they are rational. Yet the common man with no training or practice to think rationally believes he acts rationally.

Stupid people don't realize how incompetent and annoying they are. Read about the frequently quoted and famous Dunning-Kruger effect.

These irrational and arbitrary beliefs also tend to be unshakeable and resistant to any logic. Humans take their irrational and arbitrary beliefs to their grave.

Our education, upbringing, and values can be blamed for this. Few of us are taught what is important in life. History, culture, mathematics, science, statistics, economics, investing, relationships, public interactions, and human psychology are very important, but not emphasized enough in the early years of our life. People are left alone to figure out the important things in life.

We live in the Age of Stupid. This was brought about by our arbitrary decision making. Humans have a natural inclination to justify what is wrong, rather than acknowledge and correct their mistakes. Success in modern society is a numbers game and relies on luck. Set yourself up for success in this Age of Stupid by being aware and well-prepared.

'You can't fix stupid' is a popular American proverb. 'People take their prejudices to their grave' is a popular English one.

The key to be successful and happy is to look for people who prefer you over others. Find your small community, and hope the stupid don't come for you with swords and flaming torches.

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - Martin Luther King Jr.

Related articles

What to do: start here
A life unlived

External Links