The Fine Line Between Ignorance & Stupidity

Source of photo:

One of my favorite quotes is the late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The photo that opens this post made me think of this quote and inspired me to make this post. I truly think far too many people, especially many amongst our younger generation, are conditioned to remain sincerely ignorant out of conscientious stupidity.

I am a voracious reader and I enjoy writing, both for my work and for pleasure (as evidenced by this blog). To paraphrase Earl Nightingale, a person who doesn’t read is no better off than a person who cannot read. If you do not read, write, and interact with people, especially with those with whom you disagree, then you lack the capacity for critical thought.

The problem that I see in this country is that many people do not use the great technological resources at their fingertips so much as they allow themselves to be enslaved by those great technological resources.

Our collective intellectual power is being used without discipline or constructive purpose. Instead of sparking intellectual curiosity in the masses, our technology is enabling a generation of ignorant slackers, more in touch with their emotions and more invested in defending their opinions than they are in researching facts or exposing their opinions to honest scrutiny.

The result of all of this is frighteningly obvious to anyone paying attention…

-Online forums are largely nothing more than echo chambers

-People do not go to the Internet to seek answers, they go to seek confirmation.

-Social media is used not to connect with people, but to commiserate with the like-minded, seek cheap external validation, or to make others believe their lives are better than they actually are. Instead of making their lives better outside of cyberspace, people seek absolution and solace within cyberspace.

Our political bifurcation is largely driven by the lackadaisical way we view politics filtered through social media and the Internet. We are more fearful because we are more susceptible to coercion by authority figures than ever before, precisely because of the way most of us use technology.

We find comfort within our “tribes“, whether our tribe is our ethnicity, our political ideology, our gender, or any other affiliation we can think of. You are only an Internet search away from an online group that you can join and have your own opinions and prejudices reflected back to you.

Instead of using Boolean operators to find scholarly sources to research facts, we lazily search for sources that will confirm our biases. Whether you realize it or not, whenever you do that, you are making a choice to remain ignorant.

Sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity are dangerous because people who subscribe to the latter are using our technology to drive the former and the former never stops to realize it.


Because it is easier and more comfortable to emote than it is to think.

-The Rational Ram

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