"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious." Stephen hawking.
Our ancestors had it good. If you wanted to know something, you didn’t have the collective knowledge of humanity at your fingertips to search and find an answer. You couldn’t cross reference sources and easily come to a conclusion like you can today. You could be willfully ignorant and stupid and no-one could really blame you for it. In the modern age, you have no right to be ignorant or indeed stupid. You can be knowledgeable and intelligent with the click of a button. So why is there so much ignorance and stupidity in the world?
There is a fundamental baseline of knowledge that a human should have to be a productive part of society. You should know the general history of humanity, what the scientific method is and how your political system works. You definitely should know the basic errors humanity has committed in the past and why we should not commit the same mistakes in the future. If you don’t know why perpetuating ignorance is bad you should forsake many of your basic human rights, because you are not fit to make decisions.
It is imperative that humanity ascend past the quagmire of bullshit it repeatedly finds itself in and the only way to do that is create a population that is educated, aware and is able to make rational and logical decisions founded on a basis of knowledge. The reason we continually find ourselves in the same position time and time again is the lack of awareness that other humans have fucked up the same way before. So why do we keep failing at progressing to the next stage of social evolution?
Right now, in this day and age we have two parallel situations that the ancient Greeks, Romans and revolutionary French found themselves in. An increasing wealth gap between the richest and poorest in society and a growing group of disenfranchised people that feel they are being left behind. Historically speaking, this is a one-way ticket to revolution. People can only be pushed so far before they lash out. The issue with revolutions is we typically end up in the same place we started. The key is in the word ‘revolution’. Something that revolves will always end up in the same place.
It is very topical that we have current events supporting what I’ve said here. Many countries are increasingly emotive in their choices rather than rational and logical. Believing something isn’t true is enough, rather than basing statements on facts or evidence. I’ve recently seen an interview with a politician that was confronted with facts said that he understood what the interviewer was saying, but chose not to believe it. How can you choose not to believe a fact?
Many of the people you see every day will choose to believe something despite factual evidence pointing to the contrary. Shit, entire school districts allow intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution as valid science. This shit really has to change. Ignoring something because it doesn’t fit your beliefs is just plain stupid.
This really amounts to a key point. Beliefs are dangerous, ideas are not. Typically, a belief will be a set value point that cannot be easily amended or changed. People should instead adopt the concept of having ideas over beliefs. If you have an idea and it is challenged by reality, you can amend the idea to take on the new information and therefore not perpetuate the stupid.
How then do we break this cycle? Well the most obvious starting point is preventing stupidity through adequate education. This does not mean the school system, which clearly does not meet it’s objective. This means finding another way to pass on critical information to the next generation of humans. It is imperative to create a sense of curiosity, as this will encourage young humans to reach out and find the information they are looking for. We have the internet, so use it. Let people educate themselves by pushing curiosity upon them.