Lamenting Stupidity

It is fashionable, particularly in pseudointellectual circles, to lament the decline of society (perhaps the decline of your country's society, or the decline of society in general). This is usually tied up with much weeping and gnashing of teeth over how stupid people these days are.

I've got to say that this kind of lamentation doesn't exactly make you look smart. It mostly makes you look like an elitist asshole with a superiority complex, and while some intelligent people are like that a lot of them have better things to do than sit around complaining - I'll get onto this later. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't go through an elitist pseud phase, but I'd like to think that I grew out of it. I realised that I was an absolutely insufferable prick and that nobody really wanted to be around me except other insufferable pricks, which is not really a brilliant track record, but more to the point I realised that complaining doesn't actually get anything done.

At this point, everyone who isn't utterly naive about the world and its ways will sigh and roll their eyes. It is absolutely trivial that complaining doesn't get anything done. It is also disgustingly solution-based, which some people have a problem with. Unfortunately for them, my head is filled with physics, maths, engineering and other problem-solving disciplines.

So let's say that for whatever reason you believe the vast majority of people are stupid. From my perspective, why you believe these things is out of my field; I'm not a psychologist.

Do you believe this is a bad thing? If you're complaining about it, almost certainly.

Know this. Know that people can and do change over time. Know that you can get through to (most) of them.

Know that the problem you are complaining about is fixable. And know that you can help fix it by doing something as simple as pointing people to a website, as simple as copying and pasting a link. You don't have to sacrifice your life and goals to help out a bit in this world.

"But it's not my job to educate people!" you might say indignantly. "I have enough going on just trying to live without having to answer everyone's stupid, basic questions!"

It's not my job either. Although I entertain ideas of going into science communication, for the moment talking about science is my hobby. It's something I do when I'm not doing my degree. It's something I squeeze in amidst the mess that is my life.

I don't do it because it's my job. I do it because I consider it my responsibility to share the knowledge I have been privileged to access, in the hope that maybe one day everyone will be able to share in this knowledge and resources. I do it because someone's got to pick up the slack and confront the woeful scientific illiteracy in our society. I do it because if everyone decided that if educating people wasn't their job, we wouldn't so much as have resources to google, let alone people answering complex questions.

In short - and I know I sound like a self-righteous prick saying this - I do my best to educate other people because I truly, deeply and sincerely believe that it's the right thing to do.

I recognise that the physical sciences are relatively apolitical and that other subjects are far more charged. I also recognise that I am speaking from a position of great privilege. But there are people who are more privileged than me who lament stupidity and yet do nothing about their perceived problem. To them I say: if you think there is a problem, you have the power to fix it.